Derivation and Characterization of Mesenchymal Stem Cells from Adipose Tissue, Blood, and Placenta and Administration in Reticulated Giraffes (Giraffa camelopardalis reticulata) for Treatment of Severe Orthopedic Disease
American Association of Zoo Veterinarians Conference 2019
Valerie Johnson1, DVM, DACVECC, MS; June Olds2, DVM; Liza Dadone3, VMD; Matthew Johnston1, VMD, DABVP (Avian Practice); Steven Dow1, DVM, DACVIM (Small Animal Internal Medicine), PhD
1Colorado State University, Fort Collins, CO, USA; 2Blank Park Zoo, Des Moines, IA, USA; 3Cheyenne Mountain Zoo, Colorado Springs, CO, USA


Orthopedic dysfunction is a common cause of lameness in giraffes in managed care and is a significant cause of morbidity and mortality.1-3 Multiple etiologies have been proposed to account for this pathologic process, but a definitive cause has not been identified.2,3 This process can be incredibly difficult to manage and involves intricate and risky anesthetic events.3 While prevention would be preferable to treatment, the multifactorial etiology is still incompletely understood and may not be able to be corrected in a managed care setting. Safe and effective treatments are urgently needed that will provide both symptomatic relief and ideally assist in resolution of the pathologic process. Mesenchymal stem cells (MSC) are a recent novel therapeutic in the field of regenerative medicine that possess the unique qualities of providing symptomatic relief through the downregulation of inflammation, but in addition provide regeneration of the damaged joint through provision of growth factors and stimulation of endogenous stem cell populations.4 MSC can be derived from a variety of tissues—most commonly adipose, bone marrow, or placenta. This report describes the generation of mesenchymal stem cells from multiple tissue sources in the giraffe (Giraffa camelopardalis reticulata) and subsequent characterization and administration to multiple giraffes with severe orthopedic dysfunction. All giraffes treated were reported to have increased comfort and function as assessed by evaluation of subjective and objective measures. This therapy is a promising new technology that has great potential in the treatment of a challenging and common disorder in this species.


The author acknowledges funding through Cheyenne Mountain Zoo Crowdfunding Grant (VJ, LD) and private donations to Colorado State University (VJ).

Literature Cited

1.  Dadone L, Schilz A, Friedman SG, Bredahl J, Foxworth S, Chastain B. Training giraffe (Giraffa camelopardalis reticulata) for front foot radiographs and hoof care. Zoo Biol. 2016;35:228.

2.  Wakeman KA, Sanchez CR, Lung NP, Hersman J, Barrett MF. The use of magnetic resonance imaging to better define hoof pathology in the reticulated giraffe (Giraffa camelopardalis reticulata). J Zoo Wildl Med. 2013;45(3):668.

3.  Dadone L. Lameness diagnosis and management in zoo giraffe. In: Miller RE, Lamberski N, Calle PP, eds. Fowler’s Zoo and Wild Animal Medicine: Current Therapy. Volume 9. St. Louis, MO: Elsevier; 2019:623–629.

4.  Frietag J, Bates D, Boyd R, Shah K, Barnard A, Huguenin L, Tenen A. Mesenchymal stem cell therapy in the treatment of osteoarthritis: reparative pathways, safety and efficacy—a review. BMC Musculoskelet Disord. 2016;17:230.


Speaker Information
(click the speaker's name to view other papers and abstracts submitted by this speaker)

Valerie Johnson, DVM, DACVECC, MS
Colorado State University
Fort Collins, CO, USA

MAIN : Mammals II : Stem Cell Administration in Giraffe Orthopedic Disease
Powered By VIN