Development of wheat-sensitive enteropathy in Irish Setters: Morphologic changes

Edward J. Hall From the Department of Veterinary Pathology, University of Liverpool, PO Box 147, Liverpool, L69 3BX, England.

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 VetMB, PhD
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Roger M. Batt From the Department of Veterinary Pathology, University of Liverpool, PO Box 147, Liverpool, L69 3BX, England.

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 BVSc, PhD

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SUMMARY

Morphologic changes in the small intestine were investigated during development of naturally acquired wheat-sensitive enteropathy in Irish Setters. To distinguish underlying morphologic abnormalities from non-specific effects of intestinal damage, progeny of affected dogs reared on a normal wheat-containing diet were compared with their own littermates reared on a cereal-free diet and with age-matched clinically normal Irish Setters fed the same wheat-containing diet. Peroral jejunal biopsy specimens were taken sequentially between 4 months and 1 year of age. At 4 months of age, there were no differences in villus height, comparing the 3 groups, but increased numbers of intraepithelial lymphocytes and goblet cells were already present in biopsy specimens from the affected Irish Setters fed wheat. Dietary wheat resulted in a progressive reduction in villus height in the jejunum of affected Irish Setters from 6 months onward. Underlying morphologic abnormalities were not found, and the characteristic morphologic changes of this enteropathy were secondary to the presence of dietary wheat. However, development of partial villus atrophy was preceded by increased numbers of intraepithelial lymphocytes and goblet cells.

SUMMARY

Morphologic changes in the small intestine were investigated during development of naturally acquired wheat-sensitive enteropathy in Irish Setters. To distinguish underlying morphologic abnormalities from non-specific effects of intestinal damage, progeny of affected dogs reared on a normal wheat-containing diet were compared with their own littermates reared on a cereal-free diet and with age-matched clinically normal Irish Setters fed the same wheat-containing diet. Peroral jejunal biopsy specimens were taken sequentially between 4 months and 1 year of age. At 4 months of age, there were no differences in villus height, comparing the 3 groups, but increased numbers of intraepithelial lymphocytes and goblet cells were already present in biopsy specimens from the affected Irish Setters fed wheat. Dietary wheat resulted in a progressive reduction in villus height in the jejunum of affected Irish Setters from 6 months onward. Underlying morphologic abnormalities were not found, and the characteristic morphologic changes of this enteropathy were secondary to the presence of dietary wheat. However, development of partial villus atrophy was preceded by increased numbers of intraepithelial lymphocytes and goblet cells.

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