The Association of Specific Constituents of the Fecal Microbiota with Immune-Mediated Brain Disease in Dogs

PLoS One. 2017 Jan 26;12(1):e0170589. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0170589. eCollection 2017.


Meningoencephalomyelitis of unknown origin (MUO) is a common, naturally-occurring, clinical disease of pet dogs. It is an immune-mediated condition that has many similarities with experimental autoimmune encephalitis (EAE) in rodents and so investigation of its pathogenesis may aid in understanding factors that contribute to development of multiple sclerosis in people. Gut microbiota are known to modulate immune responses that influence susceptibility to immune-mediated brain disease. In this study we aimed to compare abundance of specific constituents of the fecal microbiota, namely Faecalibacterium prausnitzii and Prevotellaceae, between dogs diagnosed with MUO and matched controls. Fecal samples were obtained from 20 dogs diagnosed with MUO and 20 control dogs matched for breed, age and gender. Bacterial abundance was measured using qPCR and 16S rRNA sequencing. We found that Prevotellaceae were significantly less abundant in cases compared with controls (p = 0.003) but there was no difference in abundance of F.prausnitzii. There was no evidence of other differences in gut microbiota between groups. These data, derived from this naturally-occurring canine clinical model, provide strong corroborative evidence that high abundance of Prevotellaceae in the gut is associated with reduced risk for developing immune-mediated brain disease.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Bacteroidetes / genetics
  • Bacteroidetes / isolation & purification*
  • Bacteroidetes / pathogenicity
  • Brain Diseases / diagnosis
  • Brain Diseases / genetics
  • Brain Diseases / microbiology*
  • Brain Diseases / pathology
  • DNA, Bacterial / genetics
  • Dog Diseases / diagnosis
  • Dog Diseases / genetics
  • Dog Diseases / microbiology*
  • Dog Diseases / pathology
  • Dogs
  • Faecalibacterium prausnitzii / genetics
  • Faecalibacterium prausnitzii / isolation & purification
  • Faecalibacterium prausnitzii / pathogenicity
  • Feces / microbiology
  • Gastrointestinal Tract / microbiology
  • Microbiota / genetics*
  • RNA, Ribosomal, 16S / genetics


  • DNA, Bacterial
  • RNA, Ribosomal, 16S

Grant support

This study was sponsored by the American Kennel Club, grant # 01731, awarded to NDJ, JS and AJ. The sponsor provided the funding based on a grant proposal designed by the applicants. The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.