A dysbiosis index to assess microbial changes in fecal samples of dogs with chronic inflammatory enteropathy
Recent studies have identified various bacterial groups that are altered in dogs with chronic inflammatory enteropathies (CE) compared to healthy dogs. The study aim was to use quantitative PCR (qPCR) assays to confirm these findings in a larger number of dogs, and to build a mathematical algorithm to report these microbiota changes as a dysbiosis index (DI). Fecal DNA from 95 healthy dogs and 106 dogs with histologically confirmed CE was analyzed. Samples were grouped into a training set and a validation set. Various mathematical models and combination of qPCR assays were evaluated to find a model with highest discriminatory power. The final qPCR panel consisted of eight bacterial groups: total bacteria, Faecalibacterium, Turicibacter, Escherichia coli, Streptococcus, Blautia, Fusobacterium and Clostridium hiranonis. The qPCR-based DI was built based on the nearest centroid classifier, and reports the degree of dysbiosis in a single numerical value that measures the closeness in the l2 - norm of the test sample to the mean prototype of each class. A negative DI indicates normobiosis, whereas a positive DI indicates dysbiosis. For a threshold of 0, the DI based on the combined dataset achieved 74% sensitivity and 95% specificity to separate healthy and CE dogs.