Hemochromatosis in Salers Cattle

John K. House, Bradford Smith, John Maas, V Michael Lane, Bruce C. Anderson, Thomas W. Graham, Michael V. Pino

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Scopus citations


Two 2‐year‐old Salers cattle from different herds raised on pasture were evaluated for retarded growth and diarrhea. Increase of liver enzyme activities and prolonged sulfobromophothalein (BSP) half life (T1/2) indicated liver disease with impaired liver function. Histopathologic examination of liver biopsies revealed a micronodular cirrhosis with marked deposition of hemosiderin in hepatocytes, Kupffer cells, and arterioles. Transferrin saturation (TS) and liver iron content were markedly increased, consistent with a diagnosis of hemochromatosis. Both animals were euthanatized due to deterioration in their condition. Necropsy findings included hepatomegaly and hemosiderin accumulation in the liver, lymph nodes, pancreas, spleen, thyroid, kidney, brain and other glandular tissue. Continued surveillance of the second herd (serum iron, total iron binding capacity [TIBC], unsaturated iron binding capacity [UIBC], and TS), identified a heifer as a hemochromatosis suspect in a subsequent generation. Liver biopsies from that animal revealed the same histopathologic changes as the previous 2 animals, and similar increases in liver iron content (8,700 ppm, normal range 45 to 300 ppm). The 3 affected cattle were all products of line breeding programs and shared a common ancestor. The absence of dietary iron loading in conjunction with the histopathologic and metabolic findings were consistent with a diagnosis of primary hemochromatosis. The reported disease is similar to idiopathic hemochromatosis in human beings in which there is a hereditary defect in iron metabolism.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)105-111
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Veterinary Internal Medicine
Issue number2
StatePublished - 1994

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • veterinary(all)


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