Paraplegia in a Bornean orangutan (Pongo pygmaeus pygmaeus) due to multiple myeloma

Journal of Medical Primatology
Susanne MauelAchim D Gruber


A 38-year-old male Bornean orangutan (Pongo pygmaeus pygmaeus) developed progressive hind leg paresis. A computed tomography scan of the vertebral column revealed soft tissue type densities within vertebral bones. At necropsy infiltrating tumor masses were found in the vertebral bodies, protruding into the spinal canal and compressing the spinal cord. Microscopically neoplastic plasma cells infiltrated the vertebral bodies and adjacent soft tissues. Immunohistochemically, tumor cells tested positive for B cell markers (CD38, CD79alpha), kappa, and lambda light chains, while vimentin, GFAP, S100, and CD138 were not expressed. The tumor was classified as multiple myeloma on the basis of radiographic, pathological, and immunohistochemical findings. This first systematic case description on multiple myeloma in a non-human primate revealed many similarities with the disease in humans and the immunohistochemical tools proved suitable for their use in the orangutan.


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