Mechanism of Epithelial Injury in Canine Inflammatory Bowel Disease

Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) occurs relatively frequently in dogs and can cause vomiting, diarrhea, anorexia and weight loss. Despite the incidence and severity of IBD in dogs, the underlying causes remain uncertain.

Current theory suggests an interplay of genetic, environmental and immunological factors. Investigators will obtain epithelial cells from gastrointestinal tract tissue during routine gastrointestinal endoscopy in dogs with IBD. They will study these cells to determine their involvement in the inflammatory response of the gut. Results obtained should shed light on this disease and may lead to more specific strategies for treating and preventing IBD.


Although preliminary in nature, investigators showed that epithelial cells, those that line the dog’s intestine, normally express receptors that interact with bacteria and their products. The result of this interaction is production of soluble factors called cytokines, which can have both destructive and protective effects on the intestine. Investigators showed that the receptors on epithelial cells are dysregulated in dogs that are prone to intestinal inflammation. This dysregulation appears to occur before the development of clinical IBD. Investigators also identified potential mechanisms for dampening this response.

Co-sponsored with the Morris Animal Foundation, Grant Number: D04CA-108


Peter J. Felsburg, VMD, PhD
University of Pennsylvania