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Vet Microbiol. 2008 Apr 1;128(1-2):178-93. Epub 2007 Oct 22.

The relationship of mucosal bacteria to duodenal histopathology, cytokine mRNA, and clinical disease activity in cats with inflammatory bowel disease.

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Department of Clinical Sciences, College of Veterinary Medicine, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY 14853, USA.


Feline inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) is the term applied to a group of poorly understood enteropathies that are considered a consequence of uncontrolled intestinal inflammation in response to a combination of elusive environmental, enteric microbial, and immunoregulatory factors in genetically susceptible cats. The present study sought to examine the relationship of mucosal bacteria to intestinal inflammation and clinical disease activity in cats with inflammatory bowel disease. Duodenal biopsies were collected from 27 cats: 17 undergoing diagnostic investigation of signs of gastrointestinal disease, and 10 healthy controls. Subjective duodenal histopathology ranged from normal (10), through mild (6), moderate (8), and severe (3) IBD. The number and spatial distribution of mucosal bacteria was determined by fluorescence in situ hybridization with probes to 16S rDNA. Mucosal inflammation was evaluated by objective histopathology and cytokine profiles of duodenal biopsies. The number of mucosa-associated Enterobacteriaceae was higher in cats with signs of gastrointestinal disease than healthy cats (P<0.001). Total numbers of mucosal bacteria were strongly associated with changes in mucosal architecture (P<0.001) and the density of cellular infiltrates, particularly macrophages (P<0.002) and CD3(+)lymphocytes (P<0.05). The number of Enterobacteriaceae, E. coli, and Clostridium spp. correlated with abnormalities in mucosal architecture (principally atrophy and fusion), upregulation of cytokine mRNA (particularly IL-1, -8 and -12), and the number of clinical signs exhibited by the affected cats. These data establish that the density and composition of the mucosal flora is related to the presence and severity of intestinal inflammation in cats and suggest that mucosal bacteria are involved in the etiopathogenesis of feline IBD.

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