Current research in gastrointestinal, dental and endocrine diseases


Assessing the effect of D-mannose on clinical outcome and microbiota composition in canine chronic inflammatory enteropathy

Clinical Research Project Grant: £9,409.36 awarded in 2022

Institution: University of Edinburgh

Chronic inflammatory enteropathy in dogs is difficult to treat as gut microbial dysbiosis is likely. Mannose has unique properties in binding specific bacteria in the gut before they can contribute to gut inflammation, and could be an easy and cheap way to help regulate dysbiosis long-term. This study will investigate whether mannose is an effective treatment for canine chronic inflammatory enteropathy, and examine its effect on the microbiota composition.



Past research in this area


Feasibility of using a point-of-care analyser for faecal calprotectin to differentiate different intestinal disease in cats

Student Research Project Grant: £2890 awarded in 2022

Institution: University of Edinburgh

Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) and lymphoma are the two most common chronic conditions in the feline gut, yet their diagnosis is complex and often requires invasive tests like intestinal biopsies. Faecal calprotectin (fCal) is commonly used in people and, more recently, in dogs with IBD as a marker of intestinal inflammation. Preliminary data suggest that it can also be used in cats, and can be measured with a point-of-care analyser, which facilitates real-time decision making in a clinical setting. This undergraduate project assessed the performance of a fCAL point-of-care analyser to differentiate cats with intestinal diseases from healthy cats.

The fCAL detection threshold of the point-of-care analyser was insufficient to produce readings, even at higher sample loading volumes, so could not be used to differentiate between cats with and without disease.

Findings were presented as an abstract at BSAVA Congress 2023, which can be freely accessed here.


The characterisation and clinical significance of intestinal fibrosis in cats with chronic inflammatory enteropathy

Master’s Degree by Research Grant: £40,000 awarded in 2021

Institution: RVC

Feline chronic inflammatory enteropathy is a debilitating disease, which can ultimately result in euthanasia. Its exact cause is unknown and therefore treatment is a sequential or combination approach with diet, antibiotics and immunosuppressive medication depending on the severity of signs. Although fibrosis is routinely reported in intestinal biopsies from cats with chronic inflammatory enteropathy, its clinical significance is unknown so was explored in this master’s degree.

Sixty-five cats with chronic inflammatory enteropathy were included in the study, with follow-up information available for 54 cats (83%). Of these, 37% (n=20) were euthanised due to gastrointestinal disease and 46% (n=25) were alive and in clinical remission, with 64% (n=16) of these diagnosed with food-responsive enteropathy. Intestinal biopsy specimens from these cats were stained with Masson’s trichrome stain and antivimentin and anticollagen I antibodies to identify intestinal fibrosis. Mucosal fibrosis was identified in 51% of duodenal and 76% of colonic hematoxylin and eosin-stained specimens. Vimentin labeling and Masson’s trichome staining identified additional cases of intestinal fibrosis in 65% and 58% of the duodenal biopsy specimens, respectively. Vimentin labeling detected intestinal fibrosis in 79% of the colonic biopsy specimens. Positive vimentin labeling and Masson’s trichrome staining of the colonic mucosa were associated with a decreased likelihood of attaining clinical remission and increased risk of death because of chronic inflammatory enteropathy (p < 0.05). These findings suggest that additional staining at biopsy allow for better identification of intestinal fibrosis and prognostic information compared to routine hematoxylin and eosin staining. These findings are published in the April 2023 issue of the Journal of Veterinary Internal Medicine.

The study found no correlation between the tested clini­copathological variables, measured at the time of histopathological diag­nosis, and death due to gastrointestinal disease, or length of survival in these cats before death due to gastrointestinal disease. However, achieving clinical remission reduced the likelihood of subsequent death due to gastrointestinal disease. These findings are published in the March 2023 issue of the Journal of Small Animal Practice. Our press release about the work can be read here.


An investigation of novel immunohistochemical markers and serum auto-antibodies in cats with chronic biliary tract disease

Master’s Degree by Research Grant: £34,844 awarded in 2020

Institution: University of Cambridge

Diseases of the bile ducts in cats are common but poorly understood: the causes are unknown and there is no universally effective treatment. Some cases may be due to the cat’s immune system attacking its own liver (autoimmune liver disease) but this has not been proven. This master’s degree aimed to improve our understanding and categorization of feline chronic liver disease by measuring serum autoantibodies in affected cats and correlating these with histopathology and immunochemistry findings.

Seven of the 34 cats analysed had serum autoantibodies that were detectable using indirect immunofluorescence and a species-specific substrate. This could allude to an immune-mediated aetiology and also the existence of multiple disease syndromes within the classically histologically-defined cholangitis/cholangiohepatitis complex in cats.