Vacuolation and mineralisation as dominant age-related findings in hamster brains
Syrian golden hamsters (Mesocricetus auratus) are laboratory animals increasingly used for research and toxicological studies. Despite the need for an adequate knowledge of spontaneously occurring lesions, studies investigating the background pathology of different organ systems in hamsters are lacking. The aim of this study was to investigate the occurrence of spontaneous, age-dependent lesions in the central nervous system of this species. Multiple brain and spinal cord transverse sections of 520 hamsters of 1, 3, 6, 12, and 24 months of age were investigated using histology and immunohistochemistry. Vacuolation of grey matter neuropil and mineralisation especially in the brain stem were the most prominent findings. They gradually increased in severity and frequency with age. Vacuolation and mineralisation affected approximately 100% and 50% of 24-month-old hamsters, respectively. In addition, pigment deposition and mast cell infiltration were commonly detected. Wheth er vacuolation and mineralisation represent an incidental finding or are related to a cognitive dysfunction syndrome remains to be determined.