Background: A new congenital hair-shaft abnormality resembling the lanceolate hair phenotype of rodents is described in a litter of four domestic short hair (DSH) cats. Data relating to hair shaft and follicle disorders remain scarce in veterinary medicine.
Objectives: To describe and compare structural abnormalities in these cats with other hair dystrophies in cats and other mammals.
Animals: A DSH cat litter with progressive noninflammatory alopecia.
Methods and materials: Histopathological evaluation, scanning and transmission electron microscopy, and X-ray based element analysis defined the hair and skin changes in cats born with alopecia. Findings were compared to archival data from normal cats and lanceolate hair (Dsg4lahJ ) and Keratin 75 (Krt75tm1Der ) mutant mice.
Results: Light and scanning electron microscopy of the hairs revealed lance- or spear-head shaped defects of the hair tip. Histological findings were swollen hair shafts, initially above the hair bulb matrix and later found in the distal parts of the telogen hair follicles, similar to those observed in Dsg4lahJ Krt75tm1Der mutant mice. Transmission electron microscopy of the hair shaft and hair follicles showed a loss in the normal structure of the guard hairs in the alopecic cats. There was a statistically significant decrease in sulfur content just below the defects in the hair shafts (trichothiodystrophy).
Conclusion and clinical importance: A rare form of congenital alopecia resulting in follicular dystrophy is described in cats which is similar to hair follicle and hair-shaft changes reported in several mutant mouse strains with single gene mutations in adhesion molecules or keratin genes.