Background: Bacterial infection of bile is a common cause of hepatobiliary disease in cats. Whether bile harbors a core microbiota in health or in cases of suspected hepatobiliary disease in cats is unknown.
Objectives: Establish if gallbladder bile in apparently healthy cats harbors a core microbiota composed of bacterial taxa common to many individuals. Compare results of bile cytology, bile culture, and 16S rRNA gene amplicon sequencing in apparently healthy cats and cats with suspected hepatobiliary disease.
Animals: Forty-three client-owned cats with suspected hepatobiliary disease and 17 control cats.
Methods: Bile was collected by ultrasound guided cholecystocentesis (cats with suspected hepatobiliary disease) or laparotomy after euthanasia (controls). Bile samples underwent cytologic examination, aerobic and anaerobic culture, and DNA was extracted for 16S rRNA gene amplification and sequencing.
Results: Microbiome sequencing did not identify a core microbiota in control cats or cats having bile sampled because of clinical suspicion for hepatobiliary disease. Microbiome profiles from control cats were indistinguishable from profiles obtained from sampling instruments and reagents that were not exposed to bile (technical controls). Bacterial taxa that could not be explained by contamination or off-target amplification were identified only in samples from cats with bactibilia and positive bile culture results for Escherichia coli. In several E. coli positive samples, microbiome sequencing also identified a small number of potentially co-infecting bacterial genera not identified by culture.
Conclusions and clinical importance: Cat bile does not harbor a core microbiota. Uncultured bacteria may contribute to pathogenesis of hepatobiliary disease in cats with bile E. coli infection.
Keywords: cholangitis; feline; gallbladder; microbiota.
© 2023 The Authors. Journal of Veterinary Internal Medicine published by Wiley Periodicals LLC on behalf of American College of Veterinary Internal Medicine.