Disease distribution in canine patients with acanthocytosis: 123 cases




An acanthocyte is an abnormally shaped erythrocyte. In veterinary medicine, acanthocytes have historically been associated with canine hemangiosarcoma. In human medicine, acanthocytes are rarely observed with neoplastic disease and are more commonly associated with a variety of hereditary and acquired diseases.


The purpose of the study was to determine what disease processes are associated with the presence of acanthocytes in the peripheral blood of dogs.


Medical records for dogs presented to the Veterinary Teaching Hospital of Colorado State University during January 2004 through June 2008 with acanthocytes documented in their CBCs were retrospectively reviewed.


A total of 123 dogs were included, 66 of which were diagnosed with neoplastic disease, most commonly hemangiosarcoma (= 12), osteosarcoma (n = 11), and lymphoma (n = 11). The remaining 57 dogs had nonneoplastic disease, most commonly observed were gastrointestinal (n = 13), musculoskeletal (n = 8), renal (n = 8), and immune-mediated diseases (n = 7). No statistically significant difference was detected between percent acanthocytes present in dogs with neoplastic and nonneoplastic diseases.


Acanthocytosis was observed with a variety of neoplastic and nonneoplastic diseases. While clearly commonly associated, the presence of acanthocytes in a blood smear should not be considered pathognomonic for hemangiosarcoma in dogs.