Assessment of the intestinal epithelial barrier of dogs with inflammatory bowel disease using an organoid model

Progress toward more effective treatments for IBD

Purpose of study

Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD) is a frustrating disease to manage for both veterinarians and pet owners.  This condition can significantly impact the quality of a pet’s life, requiring frequent visits to the veterinarian and many diagnostic tests.  The cause in dogs is unknown but is believed to have a genetic component.  Using organoid models, it has been found that stem cells from humans with IBD fail to express certain genes.  This is important because these genes are involved in the function of the normal intestinal wall. The same could be true in dogs. This study will look at the genetic differences in dogs with IBD compared to normal dogs using organoid models. Organoids are tiny collections of cells that imitate the organ they were sampled from, in this case, the intestine. By comparing the organoids of healthy dogs to those of dogs with IBD, researchers will gain insights into the cause of IBD, which could lead to more effective treatments for IBD in the future.


Dogs enrolled in the study will receive a free gastrointestinal endoscopy including anesthesia and histopathology of two intestinal sites (duodenum and colon). This is a direct benefit to you and your pet, as this procedure is required to diagnose IBD.

You will also receive a $25 Amazon gift card for your dog’s participation in this study.

Enrollment requirements

  • Dogs that have been vomiting or having diarrhea for greater than 3 weeks
  • Non-gastrointestinal causes of vomiting and diarrhea have been excluded by blood testing (serum biochemistry profile and baseline cortisol) and abdominal ultrasound. This testing may be performed at WSU if not previously performed
  • Dogs that have already tried diet and antibiotic trials
  • Dogs that have been tested and/or treated for gastrointestinal parasites
  • Dogs that are not currently being treated with medications that suppress the immune system

Treatment methods

Your dog will be admitted to the WSU VTH for a physical assessment.   If they are approved for the study, they will be anesthetized, and a gastrointestinal endoscopy will be performed to obtain samples from two different intestinal sites for histopathology.  If additional sites are requested, they will also be completed at this time.

Owner responsibilities

Owners are responsible for the costs associated with travel to WSU’s Veterinary Teaching Hospital in Pullman, WA, as well as a consultation with the Small Animal Internal Medicine Service ($200). If additional gastrointestinal sites are biopsied beyond the duodenum and colon (e.g. stomach and/or ileum), it will be the owner’s responsibility to pay for those (approximately $250). Biopsy of these additional sites is not required for inclusion in this study. Owners must also provide medical records documenting diet and antibiotic trials, testing and/or treatment for parasites, and previous diagnostic testing.

Contact information

Dr. Matthew Wun
Resident in Small Animal Internal Medicine
cell: 509-715-4671

Jennifer Heusser
Clinical Studies Coordinator