2019 Funded Projects

The feline urinary microbiome: exploring its influence in feline chronic kidney disease (CKD), Murdoch University, June 2019

The aim of the project is to characterise the urinary microbiome in cats with chronic kidney disease (CKD). Associate Professor Mary Thompson, Dr Joanna White and Dr Jacqui Norris were awarded a FHRF grant to undertake this study. The hypothesis mooted is that cats with chronic kidney disease will have substantial differences in the numbers and types of bacteria that constitute the microbiome of the bladder in comparison to healthy cats.

This study is a vital component of a larger case-control study and will be undertaken in two overlapping sections. The first part concerns description of the urine microbiome in 40 healthy cats with the addition of collection and storage of urine collected from 20 cats with CKD (for future microbiome characterisation). This part of the study will be funded independently.

The second part of the study is the focus of the grant and involves recruitment of a further 10 cats with CKD followed by microbiome analysis of the urine of the total of 30 CKD cats (i.e. from both parts of the study).

Based on this preliminary data (including the control cases) a power analysis will be conducted to determine the number of additional cases required. The purpose of statistical analysis will be to compare the number and variety of bacterial phyla in the urinary microbiome between healthy cats and cats with CKD. Two separate multivariable linear regression analyses will be used to evaluate the relationship between disease status (healthy and CKD) and:

(i)  the number of bacterial phyla present (richness as assess by the abundance coverage estimator); and

(ii)  the relative abundance of bacterial phyla presence (evenness as assessed by the Simpsons Index).

Both models will account for the potential confounding variables of age and sex.

This project is likely to impact cats in the longer term. Chronic kidney disease is common in feline practice but understanding of the complications and potential contributors to progression such as subclinical bacteriuria is lacking. Gaining insight into the difference in the bladder microbiome between cats with CKD and healthy cats may allow identification of key interventions that may delay the development and/or slow the progression of feline CKD with potential improvements to quality of life for affected cats. Cats receive a fairly limited diet and may thus be amenable to interventions that alter the urine microbiome, including diet, pharmaceuticals, and even urine microbiome transplant. Additionally, more prudent use of antimicrobials in cats with CKD is a likely sequela to increase knowledge regarding the feline urinary microbiome. It is estimated that the project will take two years to complete.

Have any questions or ideas?

felinehealthresearchfund@yahoo.com.au

Helen Radoslovich: 0408 812 319