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Evaluation of genetic and metabolic predispositions and nutritional risk factors for pasture-associated laminitis in ponies

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  • 1 Department of Animal and Poultry Sciences, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, Blacksburg, VA 24061-0306
  • | 2 Department of Animal and Poultry Sciences, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, Blacksburg, VA 24061-0306
  • | 3 Department of Animal and Poultry Sciences, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, Blacksburg, VA 24061-0306
  • | 4 Department of Animal and Poultry Sciences, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, Blacksburg, VA 24061-0306
  • | 5 Department of Animal and Poultry Sciences, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, Blacksburg, VA 24061-0306
  • | 6 Department of Animal and Poultry Sciences, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, Blacksburg, VA 24061-0306

Abstract

Objective—To evaluate genetic and metabolic predis-positions and nutritional risk factors for development of pasture-associated laminitis in ponies.

Design—Observational cohort study.

Animals—160 ponies.

Procedures—A previous diagnosis of laminitis was used to differentiate 54 ponies (PL group) from 106 nonlaminitic ponies (NL group). Pedigree analysis was used to determine a mode of inheritance for ponies with a previous diagnosis of laminitis. In early March, ponies were weighed and scored for body condition and basal venous blood samples were obtained. Plasma was analyzed for glucose, insulin, triglycerides, nonesterified fatty acids, and cortisol concentrations. Basal proxies for insulin sensitivity (reciprocal of the square root of insulin [RISQI]) and insulin secretory response (modified insulin-to-glucose ratio [MIRG]) were calculated. Observations were repeated in May, when some ponies had signs of clinical laminitis.

Results—A previous diagnosis of laminitis was consistent with the expected inheritance of a dominant major gene or genes with reduced penetrance. A prelaminitic metabolic profile was defined on the basis of body condition, plasma triglyceride concentration, RISQI, and MIRG. Meeting ≥ 3 of these criteria differentiated PL-from NL-group ponies with a total predictive power of 78%. Determination of prelaminitic metabolic syndrome in March predicted 11 of 13 cases of clinical laminitis observed in May when pasture starch concentration was high.

Conclusions and Clinical Relevance—Prelaminitic metabolic syndrome in apparently healthy ponies is comparable to metabolic syndromes in humans and is the first such set of risk factors to be supported by data in equids. Prelaminitic metabolic syndrome identifies ponies requiring special management, such as avoiding high starch intake that exacerbates insulin resistance.

Abstract

Objective—To evaluate genetic and metabolic predis-positions and nutritional risk factors for development of pasture-associated laminitis in ponies.

Design—Observational cohort study.

Animals—160 ponies.

Procedures—A previous diagnosis of laminitis was used to differentiate 54 ponies (PL group) from 106 nonlaminitic ponies (NL group). Pedigree analysis was used to determine a mode of inheritance for ponies with a previous diagnosis of laminitis. In early March, ponies were weighed and scored for body condition and basal venous blood samples were obtained. Plasma was analyzed for glucose, insulin, triglycerides, nonesterified fatty acids, and cortisol concentrations. Basal proxies for insulin sensitivity (reciprocal of the square root of insulin [RISQI]) and insulin secretory response (modified insulin-to-glucose ratio [MIRG]) were calculated. Observations were repeated in May, when some ponies had signs of clinical laminitis.

Results—A previous diagnosis of laminitis was consistent with the expected inheritance of a dominant major gene or genes with reduced penetrance. A prelaminitic metabolic profile was defined on the basis of body condition, plasma triglyceride concentration, RISQI, and MIRG. Meeting ≥ 3 of these criteria differentiated PL-from NL-group ponies with a total predictive power of 78%. Determination of prelaminitic metabolic syndrome in March predicted 11 of 13 cases of clinical laminitis observed in May when pasture starch concentration was high.

Conclusions and Clinical Relevance—Prelaminitic metabolic syndrome in apparently healthy ponies is comparable to metabolic syndromes in humans and is the first such set of risk factors to be supported by data in equids. Prelaminitic metabolic syndrome identifies ponies requiring special management, such as avoiding high starch intake that exacerbates insulin resistance.

Contributor Notes

Supported in part by the late Paul Mellon, John Lee Pratt Graduate Fellowship Program in Animal Nutrition, Bernice Barbour Foundation, and Virginia Horse Industry Board.

Presented in part as abstracts at the American Academy of Veterinary, Nutrition Symposium, Baltimore, June 2005 and the Annual Meeting of the Equine Science Society, Tucson, June 2005.

Address correspondence to Ms. Treiber