Canine transmissible venereal tumour: assessment of mast cell numbers as indicators of the growth phase.
ABSTRACT Mast cells are immune cells that are involved mainly in type 1 hypersensitivity reactions, and they have been implicated in tumour angiogenesis. In this study we assessed the presence of mast cell numbers and microvessel density during the progression and regression stages of natural spontaneous canine transmissible venereal tumours (CTVT). Mast cells were demonstrated by histochemical staining with toluidine blue, alcian blue and safranin O. Microvessel counts were demonstrated by immunohistochemical labelling with an antibody against the endothelial cell marker factor VIII. Mitotic cells, apoptotic cells and tumour infiltrating lymphocytes were counted from haematoxylin-eosin-stained sections. Tumour fibrosis was evaluated on Masson's trichome-stained sections. The results showed that progressing tumours had significantly higher mast cell counts and microvessel counts at the invasive edges of the tumours than did regressing tumours. In both the progressing and regressing tumours, microvessel counts were significantly positively correlated with mast cell counts. Regressing tumours had significantly higher mast cell counts of the whole tumour than progressing tumours. The results also showed that progressing tumours had significantly higher mitotic rate than regressing tumours, and fibrosis and apoptosis were significantly higher in regressing tumours than progressing tumours. There were no significant differences between the biochemical and haematological values of dogs with progressing and regressing tumours. These results suggests that mast cells play a role in CTVT progression probably by promoting vascularization at the invasion front during the progression phase, and that mast cell count could be used as one of the histological factors to indicate growth stage of CTVT.