Ocular melanosis in the Cairn Terrier: histopathological description of the condition, and immunohistological and ultrastructural characterization of the characteristic pigment-laden cells

Vet Ophthalmol. 2008 Jul-Aug;11(4):260-8. doi: 10.1111/j.1463-5224.2008.00640.x.


Objective: To describe the microscopic features and lineage of proliferating/infiltrating pigmented cells in ocular melanosis of Cairn Terriers. Animals studied Forty-nine globes removed from 45 Cairn Terriers with ocular melanosis and three globes from control dogs were available for microscopic examination.

Procedures: All globes were examined histologically, eight affected and three control globes were also examined by immunohistochemistry, and three affected and three control globes by transmission electron microscopy.

Results: Large round pigment-laden cells infiltrated the anterior uvea, obscured the drainage angle and were present within the sclera and episclera of affected globes. Similar pigmented cells were present in lower numbers in the posterior segment of the globe, the optic nerve meninges and periphery of the optic nerve. Changes due to chronic glaucoma were present in many globes and some had evidence of uveitis. Many of the pigmented cells were immunoreactive to HMB45 and some were MITF and vimentin positive. One globe, which was inflamed when removed, had many pigmented cells that were CD18 immunoreactive. The other eyes had lower numbers of CD18 positive cells. The pigmented cells were not immunoreactive to smooth muscle actin, S-100, MART/Melan A, chromogranin A/B, PGP 9.5, synaptophysin, MNF116, AE1/AE3, and CD45. Ultrastructurally many of the pigmented cells had features typical of melanocytes while a smaller number appeared to be melanophages.

Conclusions: Ocular melanosis in Cairn Terriers is characterized by an infiltration of pigment-laden cells predominantly, but not exclusively, within the anterior uvea and anterior sclera. Most of these cells appear to be melanocytes although a variable proportion are pigment-laden melanophages.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Diagnosis, Differential
  • Diagnostic Techniques, Ophthalmological / veterinary*
  • Dog Diseases / genetics
  • Dog Diseases / pathology*
  • Dogs
  • Eye Diseases / genetics
  • Eye Diseases / pathology
  • Eye Diseases / veterinary*
  • Female
  • Immunohistochemistry / veterinary
  • Male
  • Melanocytes / pathology*
  • Melanocytes / ultrastructure*
  • Melanosis / genetics
  • Melanosis / pathology
  • Melanosis / veterinary*
  • Pedigree