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Cutaneous Mucinosis

The following information has been obtained online from the Dr. Jeff Vidt's website;

Cutaneous mucinosis – now known as Hereditary Cutaneous Hyaluronosis (HCH) — is a condition in which there is excessive amounts of a Jell-O®-like substance called hyaluronan (formerly “mucin”) in the dermis of the skin. While this condition is abnormal in other dog breeds, it appears to be normal in the Chinese Shar Pei. In fact, the presence of hyaluronan gives the Shar Pei its characteristic appearance. Some individuals are more severely affected than others, although treatment is seldom necessary. This condition is unique to the Chinese Shar Pei and has several clinical presentations which can present separately or in combination as:

  1. Hereditary Cutaneous Hyaluronosis (HCH) – formerly”cutaneous mucinosis”. This can manifest as a vesicular form in which small blister-like bubbles appear on the skin primarily on the ventral neck and upper legs, chest, flanks. These have a translucent appearance and can be easily traumatised and leak the hyaluronan. This can lead to bacterial skin infection. The bubbles themselves cause no problems and treatment is not needed although steroid therapy will decrease the production of mucin and temporarily alleviate the condition.

  2. Socks, Pleats and Folds – Recent research has shown pretty conclusively that the number of folds and wrinkles correlated with hyaluranon levels in the dog. It is also now known that hyaluranon levels correlate with Familial Shar Pei Fever syndrome and amyloidosis.

  3. Hyper HA syndrome – see the FAQ article on this topic

  4. Lymphedema/Lymphangitis/Lymphangectasia — This condition shows up as swollen back feet, hocks (ankles) and thighs which is NOT associated with a fever as in FSF and is not particularly painful. This is due to the pressure of the hyaluronan on the thin-walled lymph vessels which interferes with return of lymph fluid back to the vascular system.

Hyaluronan (HA) also known as hyaluronic acid, hyaluronate and mucin is a polysaccharide composed of repeating disaccharides of glucuronic acid and N-acetylglucosamine. Hence hyaluronan belongs to the family of glycosaminoglycans. An HA molecule can be made up of hundreds to thousands of these repeat sugar units. HA tends to maintain the status of a viscoelastic solution or paste depending on the concentration and size of the molecules. These long molecules tend to aggregate into mesh works. In solution HA molecules assume a complex ribbon coil structure. A good analogy would be Jell-O®. When Jell-O® is diluted with too much water it is very soft and runny. If not enough water is added it becomes almost a solid. In like manner when HA molecules are in low concentration or of smaller size molecules they form a thick fluid; and when present in high concentration or longer size molecules they form a paste or semisolid substance. Thus HA has a very important structural function in the body and varies in consistency from a thicker tenacious fluid such as seen in joint fluid or in the skin of Shar Pei (recall how “sticky” the fluid is in a skin laceration in the Shar Pei) to a solid-type material as is seen in joint cartilage. Due to its structure HA also facilitates cell shape changes and movement of cells due to its role in the pericellular envelope which surrounds cells. The HA molecules are constantly changing their orientation much as a spring does.

For more information on Cutaneous Mucinosis (or HCH) visit

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