Listen: Everything begins in the gut: How the gastrointestinal microbiome influences host health and disease

Professor Caroline Mansfield explores the potential to alleviate disease in companion animals by manipulating the gastrointestinal microbiome in this research seminar.

Professor Mansfield is the Head of Small Animal Medicine and Director of U-Vet Werribee Animal Hospital. She developed an interest in gastroenterology while completing a three-year residency in small animal medicine at University College Dublin, Ireland, and has continued that clinical and research passion since her return to Australia in 2001.

In this Faculty of Veterinary and Agricultural Sciences Dean’s Research Seminar, she discussed the surge in interest and knowledge in the gut microbiome and emerging connections between gut health and the brain in humans, and how microbiome research is being applied in companion animal biology, including her own work in chronic enteropathy in dogs.

The Dean’s Research Seminars aim to showcase to a non-specialist audience the breadth, aims, importance and impact of research being undertaken across the Faculty.

Extensive emerging research in the human field has shown a link between the gastrointestinal microbiome and a range of inflammatory, immune and neurological disorders.

The gut is the biggest digestive, immune and endocrine organ in the body, and also possesses a nervous system that is independent from the brain, but contains similar neuronal components and neurotransmitters.

The gastrointestinal microbiome influences the development and maturation of the brain and systemic immune system. Dysbiosis in people is reported in many conditions including obesity, diabetes, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, depression, kidney disease and inflammatory gut disease.

Similarly, dysbiosis is being established in dogs and cats with behavioural abnormalities, stress-associated disease, diabetes and inflammatory gut disease. There are experimental rodent models that show clinical improvement in these conditions by various methods that alter the gastrointestinal microbiome, including faecal microbial transplantation and supplementation with specific probiotics.

Banner image: Caroline Mansfield with a patient at the University’s U-Vet Werribee Animal Hospital in 2013.