Immune System Cells in Healthy Ferrets: An Immunohistochemical Study

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© The Author(s) 2013. The ferret has emerged as an excellent animal model to characterize several physiologic and pathologic conditions. The distribution and characterization of different types of immune system cells were studied in healthy ferret tissues. Eight primary antibodies were tested for immunohistochemistry in formalin-fixed tissues: anti-CD3, anti-CD79α, anti-CD20, anti-HLA-DR, anti-lysozyme, anti-CD163, anti-SWC3, and anti-Mac387. The anti-CD3 antibody labeled T cells mainly in interfollicular and paracortical areas of lymph nodes, cortex and thymic medulla, and periarteriolar lymphoid sheaths in the spleen. The anti-CD79α and anti-CD20 antibodies immunolabeled B cells located in lymphoid follicles at lymph nodes, spleen, and Peyer patches. The CD79α and CD20 antibodies also labeled cells with nonlymphoid morphology in atypical B-cell locations. The anti-HLA-DR antibody labeled macrophages, some populations of B and T lymphocytes, and different populations of dendritic cells in lymph nodes, Peyer patches, spleen, and thymus. The anti-lysozyme antibody immunolabeled macrophages in the liver, lymph nodes, spleen, and thymus. The Mac-387, CD163, and SWC3 antibodies did not show any positive reaction in formalin-fixed or frozen tissues. To elucidate the origin of the uncommon CD79α/CD20 positive cells, a double immunohistochemistry was carried out using the anti-HLA-DR + the anti-CD79α, the anti-HLA-DR + the anti-CD20, and the anti-lysozyme + the anti-CD79α antibodies. Double labeling was mainly observed when the anti-HLA-DR + the anti-CD79α antibodies were combined. The immunohistologic characterization and distribution of these immune system cells in healthy ferret tissues should be of value in future comparative studies of diseases in ferrets.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)775-786
JournalVeterinary Pathology
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2014


  • CD163
  • CD20
  • CD3
  • CD79
  • HLA-DR
  • Mac387
  • SWC3
  • ferret
  • immunohistochemistry
  • lymphoid
  • lysozyme


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