A syndrome resembling previously described feline hereditary neuroaxonal dystrophy (FHND) was diagnosed in a litter of cats. The disorder was characterized by a sudden onset of hind limb ataxia that slowly progressed to hind limb paresis and paralysis. The cats were between 6 and 9 months old when clinical signs were first noted. Histologically, there was marked ballooning of axonal processes, with spheroid formation and vacuolation in specific regions of the brain and spinal cord. Some dystrophic axons contained a central periodic acid-Schiff (PAS)-positive core. Neuronal loss and gliosis were seen in certain brain stem nuclei, spinal cord nuclei, and the cerebellum. Ultrastructurally, there was hypomyelination and dysmyelination of affected axons. The PAS-positive core in dystrophic axons corresponded ultrastructurally with accumulations of electron-dense, flocculent, amorphous material. In addition, these axons contained membrane-bound osmiophilic bodies and large nonmembrane-bound vacuoles. The syndrome in this report differs from the previously described FHND in that no inner ear involvement was seen and onset of clinical signs occurred at a later age. In addition, although some of the affected cats did have diluted coat colors, abnormal coat color was not always associated with clinical disease. This disease is similar to juvenile neuroaxonal dystrophy in children and to neuroaxonal dystrophies described in horses, dogs, cattle, and sheep.
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