A heritable keratinization defect of the superficial epidermis in norfolk terriers.
ABSTRACT Although well-characterized in man, abnormal cornification secondary to heritable superficial keratin defects is rarely reported in animals. This report describes a mild cornification defect in seven related Norfolk terrier dogs. Lesions were present at birth and pedigree analysis suggested an autosomal recessive mode of inheritance. The affected dogs had hyperpigmented skin with scaling following mild trauma. The lesions were generalized but most prominent in the glabrous skin of the axillary and inguinal regions-areas where the epidermis is not protected by hair and is subject to frequent trauma. The most striking histological change was vacuolation in the upper epidermis, which often resulted in epidermolysis and blister formation. All of the affected dogs showed similar gross and histological changes. Ultrastructural changes included abnormal keratin filament clumping, prominent clear spaces in the cytoplasm of suprabasal keratinocytes, and abnormal keratohyaline granules. Immunohistochemical labelling for keratin 10 demonstrated a lack of expression in the superficial epidermis of affected dogs. All of the morphological changes noted in the Norfolk terriers were consistent with a mild form of a heritable defect in superficial keratin synthesis.