Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Biomedical and Veterinary Medical Sciences - Veterinary Clinical Sciences

Document Type



Atherosclerosis is a degenerative and inflammatory vascular disease characterized by the accumulation of inflammatory cells, lipids, calcium, and formation of large fibrofatty lesions within the intima of arteries resulting in the disorganization of the arterial wall and stenosis of the lumen. Despite the importance of atherosclerosis in psittacine cardiology, there are few pathologic, clinical, and experimental investigations in psittaciformes. In order to expand the knowledge on psittacine atherosclerosis and provide fundamental observational information for future research, a series of studies was conducted on psittaciformes: 1) psittacine atherosclerotic lesions were characterized and categorized based on histopathology, histochemistry, transmission (TEM), and scanning electron microscopy (SEM) of 63 arterial samples, 2) the prevalence of clinically significant atherosclerotic lesions and the influence of several epidemiological variables were investigated in a multi-center case-control study on 7683 psittaciformes, 3) a diet-induced experimental model of atherosclerosis was developed and characterized in Quaker parrots (Myiopsitta monachus), and 4) a computed-tomography angiographic (CTA) protocol was developed and standardized to image the arterial lumen in Hispaniolan Amazon parrots (Amazona ventralis). Seven lesion types could be described in psittaciformes, which were similar to the human classification system. Digital image analysis, TEM, and SEM helped to further describe the lesions and refine the classification system. Atherosclerosis prevalence significantly increased with age, female sex, and the genera Psittacus, Amazona, and Nymphicus. Mild associations with reproductive, hepatic diseases, and myocardial fibrosis were also evidenced. Experimental induction of atherosclerosis with dietary 1% cholesterol lead to significant lesions within 2 months in Quaker parrots. An increase in arterial and plasma cholesterol and LDL was also documented. Reference limits for arterial luminal diameter of Hispaniolan Amazon parrots were determined by CTA and measurements revealed high intraobserver and interobserver agreement. In conclusion, psittacine atherosclerotic lesions displayed distinctive features that allowed the development of an effective classification system. The prevalence of advanced lesions (type IV-VI) was associated with several risk factors: age, female sex, and three psittacine genera. The Quaker parrot was found to be a suitable experimental model for psittacine atherosclerosis and dyslipidemia. Finally CTA was determined to be safe, reliable, and of potential diagnostic value in parrots for diagnosing stenotic atherosclerotic lesions.



Document Availability at the Time of Submission

Release the entire work immediately for access worldwide.

Committee Chair

Nevarez, Javier G.