Soft Tissue Mineralization / Kidney Calcification in Rabbits

Summary Information
Diseases / List of Miscellaneous / Metabolic / Multifactorial Diseases / Disease summary
Alternative Names
  • Dystrophic calcification
  • Kidney mineralization
  • Excess calcium / vitamin D

See also: Chronic Renal Failure in Lagomorphs

Disease Agents
  • High blood calcium levels, such that the ability of the kidneys to excrete calcium is exceeded. (B600.14.w14)
  • High calcium, high vitamin D diet. (B600.14.w14, J495.32.w2)
  • High vitamin D diet or administration of vitamin D. (J4.157.w5, J495.40.w3)
  • Reduced renal function. (B600.14.w14, J3.160.w4) See: Chronic Renal Failure in Lagomorphs
    • Rabbits do not regulate calcium absorption from the gut and the kidneys are important for calcium regulation, excreting or conserving calcium as required; impaired renal function may lead to impaired calcium excretion and thereforre to mineralisation of soft tissues, including the kidney. (B600.14.w14, J3.160.w4)
  • Experimentally, removal of part of the kidney, or cautery of renal tissue, causing chronic renal failure. (B600.14.w14)
Infectious Agent(s) --
Non-infectious Agent(s)
Physical Agent(s) --
General Description
Clinical signs
  • Anorexia, dehydration, weight loss, weakness. (J14.17.w1, J495.40.w3)
  • Progressive loss of weight and body condition; infertility in some individuals. (J42.101.w1)
  • Reduced fertility (reduced sperm output and reduced conception rates), polyuria/polydipsia (water consumption increased to 2 - 3 times normal), dehydration, emaciation, urine scalding. (J495.32.w2, V.w127)
  • Clinical pathology: hyperphosphataemia, hypercalcaemia, increased blood urea nitrogen (BUN) and glycosuria were all noted in does maintained for a year on a diet containing excessive vitamin D (10 times standard). (J4.157.w5)
  • In rabbits with aortic calcification and osteosclerosis associated with signs of chronic renal disease, high blood calcium and phosphate. (J3.160.w4)
  • Variable from a few weeks to more than three years with diets containing excess vitamin D. (J495.40.w3)

Gross pathology

  • Kidneys: 
    • Cortices containing multiple tan to grey areas. (J495.40.w3)
    • Kidneys enlarged, cortex mottled and cut surface mineralized. (J14.17.w1)
    • Cortex mineralised. (J4.157.w5)
    • Kidneys small, pale and irregularly lumpy. (J42.101.w1)
  • Bladder:
    • Increased radiodense sediment. (V.w127)
  • Arteries: 
    • Mineralisation of small and medium as well as large arteries. (J4.157.w5)
    • Particularly of the aorta and major arteries, on the intimal and adventitial surfaces, raised irregular areas. In some rabbits, affecting the whole aortic trunk. (J495.40.w3)
    • Arteries rigid, irregular in outline and greyish-white in colour. (J42.101.w1)
  • Lungs: Areas on the edges of the diaphragmatic lobes greyish-white, hard, brittle and emphysematous. (J42.101.w1)


  • Kidneys: 
    • Mineralization. (J495.32.w2)
    • Mineralization of the basement membrane of the tubules and glomeruli, and extensive interstitial fibrosis. (J495.40.w3)
    • Deposition of calcium particularly in the cortex and in the middle third of the medulla, affecting glomeruli, tubules and arterioles. Tubules dilated and containing proteinaceous material, extensive intertubular fibrosis. (J14.17.w1)
    • Massive calcification of renal tubules. (J4.157.w5)
    • Calcium deposition in the walls of Bowman's capsule, walls of some tubules, and as casts in occasional tubules, as well as some individuals. (J42.101.w1)
  • "Generalized calcification of the media of arteries, arterioles, and veins." (J4.157.w5)
  • Arteries: 
    • Extensive mineralisation. (J4.157.w5, J495.40.w3, J495.32.w2)
    • Rarely the whole circumference, more usually half to a third of the circumference. (J14.17.w1)
    • Medial degeneration and necrosis, calcium deposition, also intimal hyperplasia and hypertrophy. (J42.101.w1)
  • Arterioles: 
    • Mineralisation detected in the lungs, stomach and uterus. (J495.40.w3)
    • Mineralization sometimes affecting the whole thickness of the intima. (J14.17.w1)
    • Mineralization of the media in arterioles of the "urinary bladder, liver, adrenal capsule, spleen and in small vessels adjacent to the pancreas." (J14.17.w1)
  • Spleen: mineralization detected in the capsule and trabeculi. (J495.40.w3)
  • GIT: calcium deposits in the gastric mucosa, and "mineralization of the inner circular layer of the tunica muscularis". (J14.17.w1)
  • Pulmonary:
    • Calcium deposits in smooth muscle around the bronchi and bronchioles, in bronchial mucosa and interalveolar septa as well as in pulmonary arteries. (J14.17.w1)
    • Calcium deposition in alveolar walls in some individuals. (J42.101.w1)
  • Skeletal:
    • On the medullary trabeculi, periosteal and endosteal surfaces, and surfaces of Havarian and Volkmann's canals, basophilic material, microns to 0.5 mm thick, in some sites in the process of conversion to bone. (J14.17.w1)
    • Decrease in osteocytic activity. (J495.32.w2)
  • Uterus: Calcium deposits in the myometrium. (J14.17.w1)
  • Ovaries:
    • Calcinosis. (J495.32.w2)
    • In four rabbits examined: peripheral fibrosis, mononuclear cell infiltration, atretic follicles and occasional calcification of follicles. (J42.101.w1)
  • Thyroid: thyroid C cells showed hyperplasia. (J495.32.w2)
  • Hepatic: hepatocyte degeneration and necrosis. (J42.101.w1)
Further Information
  • In one colony on a high calcium, high vitamin D diet, increased mortality (18% compared with 2% previously), mainly in does 1-3 years of age. (J495.32.w2)
  • Note: soft tissue calcification is seen not uncommonly associated with chronic renal disease. (J3.160.w4) See: Chronic Renal Failure in Lagomorphs
  • Radiography may reveal mineralisation of the aorta and kidneys. (B600.13.w13, J3.160.w4)
    • Uniform increase of radiodensity (rather than discrete calculi) of the kidneys. (J513.6.w1, J3.160.w4)
    • Often increased radiodense sediment on radiography. (V.w127)
  • Ultrasonography may show hyperechogenecity of the renal cortex and collecting system. (J513.6.w1)
Associated Techniques
Host taxa groups /species
Disease Author Debra Bourne MA VetMB PhD MRCVS (V.w5)
Referees Aidan Raftery MVB CertZooMed CBiol MIBiol MRCVS (V.w122); Brigitte Reusch BVet Med (Hons) CertZooMed MRCVS (V.w127)

Return to top of page