02249-A: Studying the Role of the Gastrointestinal Tract in Canine Epilepsy

Grant Status: Closed

Grant Amount: $14,995
Karen R. Muñana, DVM; North Carolina State University
May 1, 2016 - February 28, 2018

Sponsor(s): American Belgian Tervuren Club, Inc., Australian Shepherd Health and Genetics Institute, Inc., National Beagle Club, Rhodesian Ridgeback Charitable Foundation, Siberian Husky Club of America, Inc.

Breed(s): -All Dogs
Research Program Area: Neurology, Epilepsy Initiative
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Epilepsy is the most common nervous system disorder of dogs. Approximately one-third of dogs with epilepsy fail to achieve adequate seizure control with anti-seizure medication, and are considered to have drug resistant epilepsy. The mechanisms that lead to drug resistance are poorly understood. Alterations in the population of intestinal bacteria in the Lactobacillus group are believed to play a role in the development and progression of several human diseases of the nervous system, including anxiety/depression, autism, multiple sclerosis and Alzheimer's disease. An association between epilepsy and both celiac disease and inflammatory bowel disease has been identified in humans, which suggests that changes in intestinal bacterial might play a role in the progression of epilepsy as well. We hypothesize that dogs with epilepsy have an altered population of Lactobacillus species in their gastrointestinal tracts compared to normal dogs, thus influencing the course of disease. The objectives of this pilot study are to determine differences in bacterial populations, and quantify the Lactobacillus component of the feces of untreated epileptic and control dogs, and to determine the effect of antiepileptic medication on Lactobacillus growth rates. Molecular genetics and bacterial culture techniques will be used. By providing preliminary information on the role of gastrointestinal tract bacteria in canine epilepsy, information can be gained to further our understanding of epilepsy and drug resistance in dogs, and ultimately lead to more successful management of the disorder.


Muñana, K. R., Jacob, M. E., & Callahan, B. J. (2020). Evaluation of fecal Lactobacillus populations in dogs with idiopathic epilepsy: A pilot study. Animal Microbiome, 2(1), 19. https://doi.org/10.1186/s42523-020-00036-6

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