Equine Metabolic Syndrome: A Horse Health Enigma

Similar to other companion animals, obesity in horses is common—it’s estimated that between 20 and 70 percent of horses are overweight. Ponies have the highest risk of becoming overweight, followed by cob-type horses.

Obesity is also one of the most prevalent health conditions in humans.; it’s associated with premature mortality, metabolic dysfunction and a myriad of health conditions. In horses, obesity-induced conditions include laminitis. Because of this, obesity is important to both human and equine medicine.

Drs. Natalie Wallis and Eleanor Raffan note that obesity regulation can be disrupted by both genetic and environmental factors. The heritability of obesity is high in humans and lab animals, with evidence showing the same in companion animals.

Laminitis is of significant concern as it is such a devastating disease. The risk factors that link obesity and laminitis are collectively called equine metabolic syndrome (EMS). EMS is defined as insulin dysregulation. Insulin resistance is common in EMS, but it’s rare for horses and ponies to actually become diabetic.

Add to that discovery that not all overweight equines develop EMS, and EMS doesn’t always cause laminitis. Last but not least, not all horses that have EMS are overweight. These paradoxes exist across breeds and between individuals, similar to humans, where there is variability between individuals and between ethnic groups.

The scientists concluded that obesity is a health concern of both humans and horses, and more research is needed on the molecular basis of obesity and associated metabolic conditions. They also note that veterinarians have much to learn about obesity from human genetics and laboratory animal models. They hope that by using both of these, animal studies will be fast tracked

Read the review here.

Read more at HorseTalk.

Published at Tue, 24 Nov 2020 20:04:21 +0000

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