Fecal α1-Proteinase Inhibitor Concentration in Dogs with Chronic Gastrointestinal Disease


  • Dr German is now with University of Liverpool Small Animal Hospital, Liverpool, UK.

Corresponding author: K. F. Murphy, Department of Clinical Veterinary Science, University of Bristol, Langford House, Bristol, BS40 5DU UK (Kate.Murphy@bristol.ac.uk).


Background: Fecal α1-proteinase inhibitor (α1-PI) clearance is a reliable, noninvasive marker for protein-losing enteropathy in human beings. An assay for use in dogs has been developed and validated.

Objective: The aim of this study was to evaluate fecal α1-PI concentration in dogs with chronic gastrointestinal disease, compared with healthy dogs, and to assess its correlation with serum albumin concentration.

Methods: Fecal samples were collected from 2 groups of dogs. Group 1 consisted of 21 clinically healthy client-owned dogs without signs of gastrointestinal disease. Group 2 consisted of 16 dogs referred for investigation of suspected gastrointestinal disease. On the basis of gastric and duodenal biopsies, group 2 was further subdivided into dogs with normal histology (n = 9) and those with histologic abnormalities (n = 7: inflammatory bowel disease, n = 3; lymphangiectasia, n = 4). An ELISA was used to measure α1-PI concentrations in fecal extracts.

Results: Fecal α1-PI concentrations, expressed as μg/g of feces, were not significantly different between groups 1 and 2 as a whole. However, fecal α1-PI concentrations (median, minimum-maximum) were significantly higher in dogs with gastrointestinal diseases associated with histologic abnormalities (60.6 μg/g, 7.4–201.7 μg/g) compared with dogs with normal histology (3.8 μg/g, 0.7–74.0 μg/g) and control dogs (9.9 μg/g, 0.0–32.1 μg/g). There was no significant correlation between fecal α1-PI and serum albumin concentrations in dogs with gastrointestinal disease.

Conclusions: Increased fecal α1-PI concentration may signal the need to obtain gastrointestinal biopsies for a final diagnosis. Fecal α1-PI concentration may be a useful test for early detection of protein-losing enteropathy before decreases in serum albumin concentration can be detected.