Cutaneous lymphomas in European pet rabbits (Oryctolagus cuniculus)

Vet Pathol. 2012 Sep;49(5):846-51. doi: 10.1177/0300985811432352. Epub 2012 Feb 3.


Cutaneous lymphoma is a common skin neoplasm of pet rabbits in Europe but is rarely reported in pet rabbits in North America. These neoplasms have not been previously characterized, nor has the cause for the apparent predilection for cutaneous lymphoma in European pet rabbits compared with North American pet rabbits been investigated. In this retrospective study, the authors morphologically and immunohistochemically characterized 25 cutaneous lymphomas in European pet rabbits according to the World Health Organization classification. Tumors were classified as diffuse large B cell lymphomas, with 14 lymphomas exhibiting a centroblastic/centrocytic subtype and 11 tumors exhibiting a T cell-rich B cell subtype. To investigate a potential viral etiology of these lymphomas, 3 diffuse large B cell and 3 T cell-rich B cell lymphomas were evaluated by polymerase chain reaction for retroviral and herpesviral genes. Neither virus was detected. In contrast to other domestic animals, cutaneous lymphomas in European pet rabbits were highly pleomorphic and frequently contained multinucleated giant cells. Unexpectedly, the second most common subtype was T cell-rich B cell lymphoma, a subtype that is rare in species other than horses. Based on a limited number of samples, there was no support for a viral etiology that would explain the higher incidence of lymphoma in European pet rabbits compared with American pet rabbits. Further investigation into genetic and extrinsic factors associated with the development of these tumors is warranted.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • CD79 Antigens / metabolism
  • Europe
  • Female
  • Immunohistochemistry / veterinary
  • Immunophenotyping / veterinary
  • Lymphoma, B-Cell / classification
  • Lymphoma, B-Cell / pathology
  • Lymphoma, B-Cell / veterinary*
  • Lymphoma, Large B-Cell, Diffuse / classification
  • Lymphoma, Large B-Cell, Diffuse / pathology
  • Lymphoma, Large B-Cell, Diffuse / veterinary*
  • Lymphoma, T-Cell, Cutaneous / classification
  • Lymphoma, T-Cell, Cutaneous / pathology
  • Lymphoma, T-Cell, Cutaneous / veterinary*
  • Male
  • Rabbits*
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Skin Neoplasms / classification
  • Skin Neoplasms / pathology
  • Skin Neoplasms / veterinary*


  • CD79 Antigens