Evaluating the health and function of the gastrointestinal tract can be challenging in all species, but is especially difficult in horses due to their size and length of the gastrointestinal (GI) tract. Isolation of mRNA of cells exfoliated from the GI mucosa into feces (i.e., the exfoliome) offers a novel means of non-invasively examining the gene expression profile of the GI mucosa. This approach has been utilized in people with colorectal cancer. Moreover, we have utilized this approach in a murine model of GI inflammation and demonstrated that the exfoliome reflects the tissue transcriptome. The ability of the equine exfoliome to provide non-invasive information regarding the health and function of the GI tract is not known. The objective of this study was to characterize the gene expression profile found in exfoliated intestinal epithelial cells from normal horses and compare the exfoliome data with the tissue mucosal transcriptome. Mucosal samples were collected from standardized locations along the GI tract (i.e. ileum, cecum, right dorsal colon, and rectum) from four healthy horses immediately following euthanasia. Voided feces were also collected. RNA isolation, library preparation, and RNA sequencing was performed on fecal and intestinal mucosal samples. Comparison of gene expression profiles from the tissue and exfoliome revealed correlation of gene expression. Moreover, the exfoliome contained reads representing the diverse array of cell types found in the GI mucosa suggesting the equine exfoliome serves as a non-invasive means of examining the global gene expression pattern of the equine GI tract.
- AnimalsFecesHorsesIntestinal MucosaIntestine, LargeTranscriptome