Naturally occurring GM2 gangliosidosis in two Muntjak deer with pathological and biochemical features of human classical Tay-Sachs disease (type B GM2 gangliosidosis)

Acta Neuropathol. 1999 Jan;97(1):57-62. doi: 10.1007/s004010050955.


Two juvenile sibling male Muntjak deer (Muntiacus muntjak) with histories of depression, ataxia, circling and visual deficits were studied. Cerebrospinal fluid analyses revealed vacuolated macrophages that contained long parallel needle-like intracytoplasmic inclusions. Light microscopically, nerve cell bodies throughout the brain, ganglion cells within the retina and neurons in the myenteric plexuses were variably swollen and had pale granular to finely vacuolated eosinophilic cytoplasm. Neuronal cytoplasm stained specifically with sudan black and Luxolfast blue stains. Within the brain there were occasional axonal spheroids, foci of astrogliosis and scattered microglial cells with abundant pale foamy cytoplasm. Electron microscopy of the brain and retina revealed numerous neurons and ganglion cells, respectively, with multiple membrane-bound structures that contained compact electron-dense membranous whorls and fewer parallel membranous stacks. Thin layer chromatography of total lipid extracts of the cerebral cortex of both cases revealed massive accumulation of G(M2) ganglioside. Crude kidney extracts of the two affected deer were able to hydrolyze 4-methylumbelliferyl beta-GlcNAc, but not 4-methylumbelliferyl beta-GlcNAc-6-sulfate, indicating the defect of beta-hexosaminidase A. Cellogel electrophoresis of the kidney extracts also revealed the deficiency of beta-hexosaminidase A in the two deer. It is concluded that these two deer had the biochemical lesion identical to that of human type B G(M2) gangliosidosis (classical Tay-Sachs disease).

Publication types

  • Case Reports
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Animals, Zoo / metabolism
  • Cerebral Cortex / metabolism
  • Cerebral Cortex / pathology*
  • Cerebral Cortex / ultrastructure
  • Chromatography, Thin Layer
  • Cytoplasm / pathology
  • Cytoplasm / ultrastructure
  • Deer
  • G(M2) Ganglioside / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Kidney / chemistry
  • Lysosomes / ultrastructure
  • Macrophages / metabolism
  • Macrophages / pathology*
  • Male
  • Muntjacs*
  • Tay-Sachs Disease / metabolism
  • Tay-Sachs Disease / pathology
  • Tay-Sachs Disease / veterinary*
  • Vacuoles / ultrastructure
  • beta-N-Acetylhexosaminidases / analysis


  • G(M2) Ganglioside
  • beta-N-Acetylhexosaminidases