Morphological and biochemical studies of a naturally occurring enteropathy in the Irish setter dog: a comparison with coeliac disease in man

Res Vet Sci. 1984 Nov;37(3):339-46.


A naturally occurring enteropathy was identified in Irish setter dogs and wheat-sensitivity was demonstrated in a litter bred from two of the affected animals. The morphological and biochemical features of this enteropathy are described and compared to coeliac disease in man. Affected animals comprised 10 dogs that presented with poor weight gain or weight loss, with or without diarrhoea. Exocrine pancreatic function was normal and culture of duodenal juice demonstrated no marked bacterial overgrowth. Serum vitamin B12 concentrations were unaltered, but in some cases low serum and erythrocyte folate concentrations and reduced xylose absorption provided indirect evidence for proximal small intestinal disease. Examination of peroral jejunal biopsies revealed patchy morphological changes within individual animals, comprising predominantly partial, but in one case subtotal, villous atrophy. Brush border enzymes were selectively altered: the specific activities of alkaline phosphatase, leucyl-2-naphthylamidase and of zinc-resistant alpha-glucosidase were reduced by approximately 40 per cent, while activities of maltase, sucrase, lactase and gamma-glutamyl transferase were unaltered. Activity of a lysosomal enzyme was increased and there was evidence for enhanced lysosomal fragility. The activity of malate dehydrogenase, with a dual mitochondrial and cytoplasmic localisation, was decreased but there were no changes in the activities of marker enzymes for basal-lateral membranes, endoplasmic reticulum or peroxisomes. These findings, particularly the specific biochemical abnormalities, were comparable to those in partially treated coeliac disease in man; however, a specific role for wheat in the pathogenesis of the disease has yet to be defined.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Celiac Disease / enzymology
  • Celiac Disease / pathology
  • Dog Diseases / metabolism
  • Dog Diseases / pathology*
  • Dogs / genetics
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Intestinal Diseases / metabolism
  • Intestinal Diseases / pathology
  • Intestinal Diseases / veterinary*
  • Intestinal Mucosa / ultrastructure
  • Jejunum / enzymology
  • Jejunum / pathology*
  • Male
  • Microvilli / ultrastructure