Skip to main content
Animal Care

NC State Veterinary Medicine Research Roundup, January 2023

The New Year is off to an exciting start for the NC State College of Veterinary Medicine! From advancing equine stem cell research to protecting sheltered kittens from deadly pathogens, our researchers are making advances in animal and human health. Here’s a sample.

Dog scratching its ear

Identifying Pathways Behind Psoriasis Symptoms

Joshua Wheeler, Anthony Domenicheillo, Jennifer Jensen, Gregory Keyes, Kristen Maiden, John Davis, Christopher Ramsden, Santosh Mishra

Psoriasis is a skin condition commonly known for its intense and uncomfortable itch. A subset of individuals with psoriasis also experience thermal hypersensitivity, which happens when your body doesn’t regulate its temperature correctly and can’t maintain a balance between cold and hot. However, the pathophysiology of thermal hypersensitivity in psoriasis and other skin conditions remains fairly unknown. While investigating this mystery, a team of researchers, including members of the NC State Department of Molecular Biomedical Sciences and the Comparative Medicine Institute, found an association between linoleic acid and hypersensitivity to temperature and pain. Though linoleic acid was not linked to itch, our Dr. Santosh Mishra, the corresponding author of the study, suggests the finding could lead to better understanding of how lipids communicate with sensory neurons. Researchers want to further explore exactly how this response is being created, which could potentially lead to improved pain and sensitivity treatments for psoriasis patients.

The study can be found in JID Innovations here and an interview with Dr. Mishra can be found in an article written by NC State’s Tracey Peake here.

Studying Probiotics as a Preventative Health Measure in Vulnerable Shelter Kittens

Jody L. Gookin, Sandra J. Strong, José M. Bruno-Bárcena, Stephen H. Stauffer, Shelby Williams, Erica Wassack, M. Andrea Azcarate-Peril, Marko Estrada, Alexis Seguin, Joerg Balzer and Gigi Davidson

Diarrhea is the second most common cause of mortality in shelter kittens, but there is unfortunately not a great deal of research published on prevention to help shelters protect their kittens from the pathogens that cause diarrhea. Probiotics are a common way in humans to aid in proper digestion and keep the gut healthy; however, studies of probiotic benefits in cats have so far involved only healthy adult cats, never sheltered kittens. This study, coauthored by Dr. Jody Gookin, observed whether administering kitten-origin Enterococcus hirae to weaned fostered shelter kittens could provide a measurable preventative health benefit. The team previously identified E. hirae as a bacterial species colonizing the small intestinal mucosa in healthy shelter kittens. Though more research is necessary, the results of this study show promise that the use of E. hirae could be a reliable method of diarrhea prevention in vulnerable young shelter kittens.

Find the study in Frontiers in Veterinary Science to learn more.

Read it here:

Advancing the Importance of Aquatic Invertebrate Welfare

Sarah J. Wahltinez, Nicole I. Stacy, Catherine A. Hadfield, Craig A. Harms, Gregory A. Lewbart, Alisa L. Newton and Elizabeth A. Nunamaker

Despite the fact that invertebrates make up over 95% of Earth’s animal species, welfare research and ethical regulations have consistently trailed behind that of vertebrate animals, even though invertebrates are also displayed in zoos and aquaria, kept as pets, used as research animals and serve as food sources for humans and other animals. To fix the uneven concern, a team of researchers, including Dr. Craig Harms and Dr. Greg Lewbart, are pushing to expand our knowledge of invertebrate welfare and encourage better ethical regulations for these animals. The researchers conducted a survey on attitudes of aquatic animal health professionals toward aquatic invertebrate welfare and then provided sensible recommendations for advancing aquatic invertebrate welfare across four different areas.

 The study and its recommendations can be found in Frontiers in Veterinary Science

 Read it here:

Storing and Isolating Equine Intestinal Epithelial Stem Cells for Potential Disease Treatment

Amy Stieler Stewart, Cecilia Schaaf, Brittany Veerasammy, John Freund, Liara Gonzalez

Equine intestinal epithelial stem cells, or ISCs, can potentially be used to treat horses with severe intestinal injury, as ISCs taken from intestinal biopsies would allow researchers to study their dynamic in a variety of intestinal diseases and use these cells as a possible therapy. Proper storage of these biopsies is crucial in successfully processing and isolating ISCs; however, effects of delayed culture on these cells after a prolonged sample storage has not yet been thoroughly observed. In this study, conducted by members of the Intestinal Regenerative Medicine Lab at NC State College of Veterinary Medicine, researchers found equine ISCs can be isolated and cultured after prolonged tissue storage. Their findings, published in BMC Veterinary Research, suggest that ISCs could be isolated for several days from samples properly stored after procedures and can then be used for study or therapy of equine intestinal diseases.

Read it here:

Revealing Risk Factors for Canine Atopic Dermatitis in Bayesian Model and Selection Signature Analyses

Canine atopic dermatitis is an inflammatory skin disease that presents very similarly to human atopic dermatitis. Atopic dermatitis is known for being very uncomfortable and causing dry, itchy and inflamed skin. There are several dog breeds that are at increased risk for developing this disease, but the genetic background for this disease is very complex and poorly defined. In an effort to better identify genetic risk factors for canine atopic dermatitis, a team of researchers, including Dr. Natasha Olby, performed genetic mapping in four dog breeds predisposed to AD, using samples from over 200 dogs per breed. The results of the study, published in Communications Biology, show genetic similarities between dog and human atopic dermatitis.

Read it here:

Research Connection: Scratching the Surface of What Causes Chronic Itch and Pain with Dr. Santosh Mishra

We all know what itching and pain feel like, but the underlying mechanisms that cause these sensations are still being understood by researchers. Dr. Santosh Mishra, associate professor in the Department of Molecular Biomedical Sciences, and his lab focus on analyzing the molecular mechanisms of itch and pain sensations for both acute and chronic diseases. His comparative studies look at the neurological pathways involved in itch, across different species, in order to help further understand why and how humans and other animals feel this sensation.