01935-B: Abnormalities in the Stomach's Ability to Contract Predisposes Large-Breed Dogs to Bloat

Grant Status: Open

Grant Amount: $233,774
Laura L. Nelson, D.V.M.; Michigan State University
January 1, 2014 - June 30, 2018
Research Program Area: Gastrointestinal Disease


Gastric dilatation-volvulus (GDV or bloat) is a devastating disease common in large and giant-breed dogs. Occurring most frequently in older dogs with a close relative who has also suffered the condition, the stomach becomes both displaced and distended with air. Without emergency medical stabilization and surgical intervention, affected dogs quickly experience shock, damage to the stomach wall, and death. Most of the research relating to GDV has described risk factors for the disease, determinants of outcome with treatment, and the effectiveness of preventive surgery (gastropexy). However, the underlying cause of GDV remains unknown. Abnormalities in the ability of the stomach to contract have been documented in dogs after naturally-occurring GDV. An analogous stomach condition in cattle, left-sided displacement of the abomasum (LDA) has been shown to, in some instances, be associated with abnormalities in the motilin gene. Motilin is an important driver of stomach contraction. This suggests that LDA and potentially GDV may be primarily caused by a stomach that does not properly contract, and that this condition may be inherited. The goals of Dr. Nelson's study are to determine the relationship of abnormal stomach contraction with GDV and to define the biochemical and genetic alterations that may be associated with these stomach abnormalities. In the long term, they hope to develop a test to identify dogs at high risk for GDV that would allow selective breeding to eliminate the condition and to determine which dogs will benefit most from prophylactic gastropexy or other preventive therapies.

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