A Bone of Contention: Os Cordis or Pathological Feature in the Chimpanzee (Pan troglodytes) Heart?
2018 Joint EAZWV/AAZV/Leibniz-IZW Conference
Sophie Moittié1,2, LV; Kerstin Baiker1, Dr med vet, DECVP; Victoria Strong1, BSc (Hons), BVSc, DVetMed; Kate White1, DECVAA, DVA; Mátyás Liptovszky2, DVM, DECZM (ZHM), MSc; Sharon Redrobe2, BSc (Hons), BVetMed, DZooMed; Aziza Alibhai1, BSc, BSc; Craig Sturrock2, BSc; Catrin Rutland1, BSc, MSc, MMedSci, PhD
1School of Veterinary Medicine and Science, University of Nottingham, Leicestershire, UK; 2Twycross Zoo, East Midland Zoological Society, Atherstone, UK; 3Hounsfield Facility, School of Biosciences, University of Nottingham, UK


Cardiovascular disease is one of the most significant causes of death in captive great apes.4 The most common pathological finding is idiopathic myocardial fibrosis, where cardiac muscle is replaced by connective tissue, leading to impaired cardiac function.3 The aim of this study was to compare the structure and morphology of 12 hearts of chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes) affected by different degrees of myocardial fibrosis using microcomputed tomography. Findings were compared with histologically defined levels of interstitial and replacement fibrosis and sex and age of the animals at the time of death. In half of the hearts, areas of mineralisation were detected within the heart. In three of them, an area of ossification was present, and it was localised within the right fibrous trigone, between the mitral and tricuspid valves. Another three chimpanzees presented multiple foci of mineralisation. All animals affected by advanced myocardial fibrosis revealed ossification, cartilaginous metaplasia or mineralisation, while animals that did not show myocardial fibrosis had no bone nor mineral deposition, independently of their age. The presence of an os cordis in the cardiac skeleton of the heart has been described in ruminants, camelids, and otters, but never in great apes.1,2 The development of bone tissue in the heart of chimpanzees affected by myocardial fibrosis could influence the risk of cardiac arrhythmias and sudden death. This is the first study using microcomputed tomography to analyse cardiac structure in great apes.

Literature Cited

1.  Egerbacher M, Weber H, Hauer S. Bones in the heart skeleton of the otter (Lutra lutra). J Anat. Blackwell Science Ltd. 2000;196(3):485–491.

2.  Ghonimi W, Balah A. Os cordis of the mature dromedary camel heart (Camelus dromedaries) with special emphasis to the cartilago cordis. J Vet Sci. OMICS International. 2014;5(4):193–200.

3.  Lammey ML, Baskin GB, Gigliotti AP, Lee DR, Ely JJ, Sleeper MM. Interstitial myocardial fibrosis in a captive chimpanzee (Pan troglodytes) population. Comp Med. American Association for Laboratory Animal Science. 2008;58(4):389–394.

4.  Strong VJ, Grindlay D, Redrobe S, Cobb M, White K. A systematic review of the literature relating to captive great ape morbidity and mortality. J Zoo Wildl Med. 2016;47(3):697–710.


Speaker Information
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Sophie Moittié, LV
School of Veterinary Medicine and Science
University of Nottingham
Leicestershire, UK

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