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Thymic lymphosarcoma of T cell lineage in a koala (Phascolarctos cinereus)


Department of Veterinary Pathology, University of Sydney, New South Wales 2006


Objective   To diagnose and characterise thymic lymphosarcoma in a koala.

Design   A pathological case.

Animal Seven-year-old female koala.

Procedure   The neoplastic process was investigated macroscopically, haematologically, histologically and

Results   The koala had difficulty swallowing because of a medial swelling in the lower neck. Biopsy of this mass and blood examination revealed lymphosarcoma with a leukaemic manifestation; necropsy and histopathological examination showed the mass to be thymus. Palatine tonsils, cervical, axillary and mesenteric lymph nodes, spleen, liver, gut, bronchi, genitalia and bone marrow were infiltrated by neoplastic cells. lmmunohistological staining of the thymic mass, cervical and mesenteric lymph nodes, bone marrow, spleen and gut revealedthe neoplastic cells to be of T lymphocyte origin (positive for both anti-human CD3 and CD5).

Conclusions   It is speculated that the neoplastic process originated in the thymus and was disseminated by bloodborne neoplastic cells. This first report of thymic lymphosarcoma in a marsupial confirms that antibodies raised originally to investigate human lymphoid neoplasia can cross-react with neoplastic lymphocytes in koalas.

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