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J Anim Physiol Anim Nutr (Berl). 2007 Feb;91(1-2):48-53.

Molecular characterisation of the gut microflora of healthy and inflammatory bowel disease cats using fluorescence in situ hybridisation with special reference to Desulfovibrio spp.

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Food Microbial Sciences Unit, School of Food Biosciences, The University of Reading, Reading, UK.


Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) is a common cause of chronic large bowel diarrhoea in cats. Although the aetiology of IBD is unknown, an immune-mediated response to a luminal antigen is thought to be involved. As knowledge concerning the colonic microflora of cats is limited and requires further investigation, the purpose of this study was to determine the presence of specific bacterial groups in normal and IBD cats, and the potential role they play in the health of the host. Total bacterial populations, Bacteroides spp., Bifidobacterium spp., Clostridium histolyticum subgp., Lactobacillus-Enterococcus subgp. and Desulfovibrio spp. were enumerated in 34 healthy cats and 11 IBD cats using fluorescence in situ hybridisation. The study is one of the first to show the presence of Desulfovibrio in cats. Total bacteria, Bifidobacterium spp. and Bacteroides spp. counts were all significantly higher in healthy cats when compared with IBD cats, whereas Desulfovibrio spp. (producers of toxic sulphides) numbers were found to be significantly higher in colitic cats. The information obtained from this study suggests that modulation of bacterial flora by increasing bifidobacteria and decreasing Desulfovibrio spp. may be beneficial to cats with IBD. Dietary intervention may be an important aspect of their treatment.

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