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Comprehensive omics comparison of feline idiopathic inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) and low-grade intestinal T-cell lymphoma (LGITL): an exploratory study for biomarker discovery


To evaluate biological samples from cats with IBD and LGITL and perform comprehensive genetic studies assessing the differences between them.


Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) and low-grade intestinal T-cell lymphoma (LGITL) are two common diseases affecting cats. Both diseases can cause diarrhea, vomiting, pain, and malabsorption of food. However, recent data indicate that those two conditions may represent a continuum, and more studies are necessary to better understand the conditions.

Since the diseases are similar and the symptoms overlap and are nonspecific, diagnosis can be challenging, and may require expensive and invasive procedures. In addition, although the general treatment for both conditions is similar, treatment may mask more aggressive and potentially costly diseases. Thus, developing better diagnostic approaches is essential to provide better care to feline patients.

In this study, we will analyze blood and small fragments of the intestines of cats with each disease and perform comprehensive genetic studies evaluating the differences. This broad approach has not been applied to studying IBD and LGITL before. We believe it can provide valuable data, indicating what differentiates and causes each disease. Our long-term goal is to identify and develop blood-based diagnostic tests to differentiate IBD from LGITL. We hope our study will improve the health care and well-being of cats who suffer from these conditions.


  • Cats who are undergoing intestinal biopsy for definitive diagnosis of GI disease will be screened. Enrollment will take place upon diagnostic confirmation of either IBD or LGITL.

Exclusion Criteria

  • FeLV/FIV positive
  • ALT, AST ≥ 2x upper reference interval
  • Significant cardiac, pulmonary, or renal dysfunction precluding anesthesia
  • Previous diagnosis of malignant neoplasm, including chronic or acute leukemia
  • Chemotherapy, immunotherapy, kinase therapy, corticosteroids, or radiation therapy in the previous 4 weeks

Study Design

We will screen cats who have clinical suspicion of having IBD or LGITL and who require endoscopic evaluation for final diagnosis. Once diagnosis of IBD or LGITL is confirmed, the cat will be enrolled. We will use the same samples collected for diagnostic purposes (small fragments of intestinal mucosa collected during endoscopy) to perform whole-genome sequencing, spatial transcriptomic analysis, and RNA sequencing. These laboratory techniques allow the evaluation of cellular function at the molecular level, helping to shed light on the mechanisms of diseases.

Aiming to cause minimal distress to enrolled cats, we intend to minimize the collection of extra samples. Thus, we will use leftover samples collected for diagnostic purposes (i.e., mucosal biopsies during endoscopy, and whole blood submitted for complete blood count) during routine clinical workups, not material collected for this study’s sole purpose. The exception is the collection of additional blood samples in cases where the remaining volume after clinically-indicated blood work is less than 2 mL

Patients can be enrolled regardless of the decision to pursue treatment. 

study timeline
Study Timeline


There are no costs for your pet to participate in the study. The costs of histopathology, immunohistochemistry, and other tests necessary to differentiate IBD from LGITL will be covered by this study (equivalent to approximately $500). Even if histopathology confirms a diagnosis other than IBD or LGITL, the study will pay for the initial diagnostic lab work.

The cost of any other tests or procedures considered standard of care in treating your pet’s illness, including clinically necessary bloodwork, surgery, anesthesia, endoscopy, aftercare, and follow-up treatment, is not covered by the study and is the owner’s responsibility.


Dr. Priscila Serpa, Clinical Pathology
Phone: (540) 231-4621

If your query is urgent, please call the Small Animal Hospital on (540) 231-4621.