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Correlation between plasma α-melanocyte-stimulating hormone concentration and body mass index in healthy horses

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  • 1 Department of Clinical Studies, New Bolton Center, School of Veterinary Medicine, University of Pennsylvania, Kennett Square, PA 19348.
  • | 2 Department of Biomedical Sciences, Atlantic Veterinary College, University of Prince Edward Island, Charlottetown, PEI, Canada C1A 4P3.
  • | 3 Department of Clinical Studies, New Bolton Center, School of Veterinary Medicine, University of Pennsylvania, Kennett Square, PA 19348.
  • | 4 Department of Clinical Studies, New Bolton Center, School of Veterinary Medicine, University of Pennsylvania, Kennett Square, PA 19348.

Abstract

Objective—To evaluate the correlation between plasma α-melanocyte-stimulating hormone (α-MSH) concentration and body mass index (BMI) in healthy horses.

Animals—82 healthy horses.

Procedure—Plasma α-MSH concentration was determined by radioimmunoassay. At the time blood samples were collected, body condition scores (BCS) were determined and measurements of girth circumference, body length, and height were obtained. Weight was estimated by use of the following formula: estimated weight (kg) = [girth (cm)2 × length (cm)]/11,877. Body mass index was calculated as estimated weight (kg)/height (m)2.

Results—A correlation was found between BMI and BCS (r s = 0.60 [95% confidence interval (CI), 0.44 to 0.73]). A weak correlation was found between plasma α-MSH concentration and BMI (r s = 0.25 [95% CI, 0.03 to 0.45]) and BCS (rs = 0.26 [95% CI, 0.04 to 0.46]). A correlation was found between plasma α-MSH concentration and BMI in horses ≥ 10 years old (r s = 0.49 [95% CI, 0.20 to 0.69]) but not in horses < 10 years old (r s = –0.04). Horses in the upper quartile of BMI had significantly greater plasma α-MSH concentration (median, 9.1 pmol/L; range, 2.0 to 95.3 pmol/L) than horses in the lowest quartile of BMI (median, 7.0 pmol/L; range, 3.6 to 15.7 pmol/L).

Conclusions and Clinical Relevance—A correlation exists between plasma α-MSH concentration and BMI in horses. Further study is required to determine whether melanocortin receptor defects underlie this correlation or, alternately, whether plasma α-MSH concentration is simply a correlate of adiposity. (Am J Vet Res 2004;65:1469–1473)

Abstract

Objective—To evaluate the correlation between plasma α-melanocyte-stimulating hormone (α-MSH) concentration and body mass index (BMI) in healthy horses.

Animals—82 healthy horses.

Procedure—Plasma α-MSH concentration was determined by radioimmunoassay. At the time blood samples were collected, body condition scores (BCS) were determined and measurements of girth circumference, body length, and height were obtained. Weight was estimated by use of the following formula: estimated weight (kg) = [girth (cm)2 × length (cm)]/11,877. Body mass index was calculated as estimated weight (kg)/height (m)2.

Results—A correlation was found between BMI and BCS (r s = 0.60 [95% confidence interval (CI), 0.44 to 0.73]). A weak correlation was found between plasma α-MSH concentration and BMI (r s = 0.25 [95% CI, 0.03 to 0.45]) and BCS (rs = 0.26 [95% CI, 0.04 to 0.46]). A correlation was found between plasma α-MSH concentration and BMI in horses ≥ 10 years old (r s = 0.49 [95% CI, 0.20 to 0.69]) but not in horses < 10 years old (r s = –0.04). Horses in the upper quartile of BMI had significantly greater plasma α-MSH concentration (median, 9.1 pmol/L; range, 2.0 to 95.3 pmol/L) than horses in the lowest quartile of BMI (median, 7.0 pmol/L; range, 3.6 to 15.7 pmol/L).

Conclusions and Clinical Relevance—A correlation exists between plasma α-MSH concentration and BMI in horses. Further study is required to determine whether melanocortin receptor defects underlie this correlation or, alternately, whether plasma α-MSH concentration is simply a correlate of adiposity. (Am J Vet Res 2004;65:1469–1473)