Canine chronic enteropathy (CE), is the most common cause of gastrointestinal (GI) disease in canine patients. The exact mechanisms leading to CE are unknown. Unfortunately, treatment for CE currently requires life-long management strategies (i.e. food elimination diets) which can be expensive and labor intensive for owners and/or require the use of medications which carry the risk for significant systemic side effects (i.e. steroids).
Diagnosis and monitoring for disease relapse relies upon owner reported clinical signs and invasive diagnostic testing (i.e. endoscopic intestinal biopsies). Thus, non-invasive diagnostics as well as specific treatments are needed. Zonulin, a eukaryotic protein, plays an integral role maintenance of intestinal barrier function Humans and laboratory animals (i.e. mice, rats) with Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD) have elevations in serum zonulin which can serve as a non-invasive biomarker for intestinal permeability and disease severity. The objective of this project was to determine if serum zonulin was elevated in dogs with CE to determine if further investigations regarding zonulin for diagnostic and/or therapeutic potential were warranted in canine patients.
Results from this study did not support the use of serum zonulin as a biomarker for canine CE. Based on the results of this study, there was no evidence of a difference between dogs with CE and control dogs ( P = 0.9746). Although the results from this study were negative (i.e. we did not support our hypothesis that serum zonulin would be a biomarker for dogs with CE), they are important. These results indicate that although serum zonulin appears to serve as a biomarker in other species, it likely should not be further investigated in the dog as a biomarker or therapeutic target.