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Degenerative Myelopathy Associated with Cobalamin Deficiency in a Cat


Dipartimento di Patologia Animale, Facoltà di Medicina Veterinaria, Università di Pisa, Viale delle Piagge, Pisa, Italy


A severe myelopathy was observed in a 9-year-old neutered male cat with a clinical history of chronic pancreatitis associated with deficiency of serum cobalamin and folates concentrations, and progressive spinal ataxia. The spinal cord lesions mainly involved the dorsal columns of the caudal cervical and cervico-thoracic segments, and were characterized by diffuse vacuolated myelin sheaths and axonal degeneration, marked gliosis, fibrosis and presence of gitter cells. The pancreas showed severe atrophy of the exocrine tissue, periductular fibrosis and infiltration of inflammatory cells, consistent with chronic interstitial pancreatitis. This condition can be accountable for cobalamin deficiency, as the pancreas is the only source of intrinsic factor in cats. The spinal cord lesions in the cat of this report resembled the subacute combined degeneration of the spinal cord described in human beings with cobalamin deficiency and hence a similar pathogenetic mechanism is hypothesized.