We aimed to document macroscopic variations in the cellular tapetum in the dog, to provide a histologic description of the macroscopic results and to evaluate the correlation between the macroscopic appearance and aging. Fifty three dogs including 5 beagles, 1 Chihuahua and 47 mixed breeds of each gender were used. For a macroscopic study, the fresh tapetal fundi were photographed using digital camera. For a histological study, the glutaraldehyde-formalin fixed eyes were embedded in nitrocellulose and stained with hematoxylineosin or thionine. The normal tapetum was triangular with the rounded angles and the smooth contour. The atypical tapetum was smaller and more variable in shape, contour and color than the normal one. In severe cases, the fundus was devoid of the tapetum. The atypical tapetum tended to increase in frequency with aging. Retinal pigment epithelial cells on the normal tapetum were unpigmented. In the eye with the atypical tapetum, regardless of tapetal size and shape, unpigmented retinal pigment epithelial cells showed a similar distribution to that on the normal tapetum, even in a dog without a tapetum. Although there is a congenitally hypoplastic tapetum, the atypical tapetum tends to increase in incidence and severity with aging.
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