Identifying GI barrier dysfunction


Robin A Saar, RVT, VTS (Nutrition), describes an imbalance in the gut microbiome, during an interview at the 2024 AVMA Convention

Robin A Saar, RVT, VTS (Nutrition) recently coauthored the Small Animal Microbiomes and Nutrition textbook with Sarah Dodd, BVSc, MSc, PhD, DECVCN. A senior scientific communication technician for Royal Canin, she also presented several continuing education sessions at the 2024 American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) Convention in Austin, Texas.

In an interview with dvm360 at the AVMA convention, Saar described the GI barrier and its function. She also discussed signs of GI barrier dysfunction such as an imbalance in the gut microbiome.

The following is a transcript of the video:

Robin A Saar, RVT, VTS (Nutrition): The GI (gastrointestinal) barrier is the components of the intestinal tract that are helping to protect the pet from the contents that are going through the lumen. So that includes food, but it also includes pathogens, bacteria, the pH, all those different things, and they are also allowing different components of that luminal content to get through to help nourish the pet.

Some of the signs that we have, what I call GI barrier dysbiosis or dysfunction, can be starting off for a lot of different reasons. One reason we know is that there's an imbalance in that gut microbiome in the pet so, we'll see an imbalance in the different bacteria and different microbes. That can lead to the mucosal barrier breaking the mucus down to the epithelial cells and allowing a lot of different components to get through. So people may have heard that as leaky gut. Everyone usually calls that leaky gut, and that's where we're getting not just the solutes that we want to get through, like our sodium and our water, we're starting to get whole bacteria that can lead to bacterial translocation. So sometimes we can see what inflammation or infection in other areas of the body actually do to this barrier dysfunction.

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