Spontaneous Pallido-Nigral Accumulation of Iron Pigment and Spheroid-like Structures in Macaque Monkeys

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Common incidental pathologic findings in Old World monkeys are spheroid-like structures and iron pigment in the substantia nigra and globus pallidus. The occurrence of each finding correlates with the number of years monkeys have spent in captivity. The spheroids are eosinophilic and argyrophilic, but are generally PAS, iron, and luxol fast blue negative. Ultrastructurally, they consist of aggregations of dense globules and granules interspersed with membranes; normal organelles are absent. One classic spheroid with a thin myelin sheath and accumulated fibrillar material was observed. The material in spheroids is ultrastructurally distinguishable from iron pigment, which is present in glial cells, and from neuronal lipofuscin. Accumulation of spheroids and iron pigmentation may be age-related phenomena involving portions of the brain with shared anatomical and biochemical characteristics. The study of these changes may shed light on the pathogenesis of such spheroid degenerations as Hallervorden-Spatz disease.

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