What is veterinary dermatopathology? 

Veterinary dermatopathology combines bridges the gap between two subspecialities in veterinary medicine, namely pathology and dermatology. In the veterinary field, dermatopathology assessments play an important role in diagnosing and subsequently informing treatment outcomes of skin lesions (as a result of disease such as cancer, inflammatory or autoimmune diseases affecting the skin) in a range of animals. However, veterinary dermatopathology has broader applications than just in veterinary diagnostics and can be further applied to the drug development field. In this article, we outline the role that veterinary dermatopathology can play in preclinical research and drug development pipeline, with providing example histopathology cases.  

What role does veterinary dermatopathology play in the preclinical research field and drug development? 

Diseases affecting the skin affect almost one-third of human population, encompassing various skin malignancies (e.g. melanoma), inflammatory conditions (such as acne, rosacea, skin scleroderma/ fibrosis, atopic dermatitis etc.,) and diseases with autoimmune origin (psoriasis, pemphigus etc.,). Given the high prevalence and burden of diseases affecting the skin, substantial research needs to be carried out to provide effective treatments. Before commencing clinical trials in human patients, efficacy of novel treatments to target skin-related diseases is evaluated, which is where veterinary dermatopathology plays a crucial role.  

To test the efficacy of novel treatments to target skin-related diseases, preclinical animal models are needed for efficacy/safety testing prior to conducting clinical trials. Therefore, veterinary dermatopathology assessments are crucial both when developing new animal models of skin diseases, but also when performing efficacy testing in already established rodent models of skin diseases.  

What type of preclinical research studies may benefit from veterinary dermatopathology assessments?

Preclinical research studies that evaluate the efficacy of novel compounds in a range of animal models of skin diseases need to undergo histopathology assessments performed by a certified veterinary pathologist. Example of studies include, but are not limited to: 

  • Efficacy studies of novel compounds performed in rodent models of wound healing, rosacea, psoriasis, skin scleroderma/fibrosis, atopic dermatitis, acne  
  • Dermatological safety evaluation of test items  in wild-type mice
  • Pathological evaluation of topical drugs and medical devices in the (SKH1) hairless mouse model 
  • Evaluation and establishment of novel skin disease preclinical animal models  
  • Evaluation of topical compound’s efficacy  
  • Evaluation of cosmetic products  
  • Biocompatibility assessment of the medical devices implanted subcutaneously  

What information can be obtained following skin pathology assessment?

Depending on the skin pathology as well as the mechanism of action of the test compound, multiple histopathological outcomes are evaluated by the veterinary pathologist. Examples of histopathology lesions that can be identified include, but are not limited to:  

  • Evaluation of inflammation; type of inflammatory infiltrates, their distribution and severity etc,. 
  • Epidermal changes (inflammation, acanthosis, spongiosis, acantholysis etc.,) 
  • Dermal changes such as fibrosis, inflammation, etc., 
  • Skin adnexa (hair follicles, sebaceous glands, sweet glands) histologic evaluation 
  • Degenerative, necrotic and apoptotic changes
  • Assessment of healing and repair; epithelialization, inflammation, angiogenesis etc., 

In the section below, we highlight multiple case studies of preclinical studies that were performed by expert laboratory technicians and evaluated by veterinary pathologist at Connected-Pathology.  

Example skin lesions – Preclinical Mouse model of psoriasis (IL-23 induced model of psoriasis) 

H&E-stained sections of ear skin confirm psoriasis-like lesions in the IL-23 induced model. (A) Spongiosis in the epidermis. (B) Munro’s abscess in the surface of epidermis, which is diagnostic criteria for psoriasis. 

Example skin lesions – Preclinical mouse model of skin inflammation 

The H&E-stained digitalized whole-slide images below show (A) infiltration of immune cells consisting of mainly lymphocyte in the dermis around and inside a hair follicle (peri-folliculitis) (B) Non-inflamed dermis in the control group. 

What is the advantage in outsourcing your veterinary dermatopathology assessments?  

Outsourcing veterinary dermatopathology assessments to contract research organisations (CROs) can be advantageous for multiple reasons, which we outline below: 

  • Preclinical veterinary pathology expertise: histopathology CROs process and assess hundreds of samples daily. Given the importance of knowing animal models’ specific skin histologic features, by working with expert CROs you can get access to specialised knowledge, working with veterinary pathologists who are specialised in the field of veterinary dermatopathology.  
  • High-volume sample processing capabilities and technical processing: Histopathology service providers have access and necessary capabilities to run high-volume studies thanks to automated sample processing and staining capabilities using state-of-the-art machinery. 
  • Advice on future projects: collaboration with histopathology CROs allows you to discuss your results with experts and obtain advice on future projects or can inform the next steps of the project. 


Outsourcing your veterinary dermatopathology assessments with Connected-Pathology  

By working with Connected-Pathology’s expert team, you can:  

  • Perform large-scale studies thanks to automated H&E and IHC staining capacity: Fully automatised and digitalized laboratory workflows thanks to automated H&E Dako stainer and Roche’s BenchMark ULTRA IHC/ISH and DISCOVERY ULTRA systems enable us to perform your large-scale studies with shorter turn-around times, whilst maintaining high quality of staining. 
  • Gain access to reliable and secure sample management system with our fully digital workflows: Once your samples arrive at our laboratory, they receive a barcode ensuring full traceability alongside stringent quality control checks throughout the entirety of your study. To ensure further confidence in your study, simply view the processing status of your samples anytime from the comfort of your own browser thanks to our in-house cloud-based LIS, Tx-Connect.   
  • Gain full access to your whole slide digital images: Conveniently view and access all whole slide images of your study as soon as they are scanned via our I-Connect platform. Archive and store your results offline by simply downloading your images at 10K resolution in a PNG format or alternatively in the VSI format to view in your own software of choice.    
  • Consult the next steps of your research with our experts: In-house expert veterinary and medical pathologists will help you from the very first steps of your research until reporting and assist you in deciding on the next steps of your investigation and compound development.