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Objective—To measure concentrations of amines formed in the cecum of clinically normal ponies, determine amine concentrations in plasma samples collected in spring and winter, and compare concentrations of amines and serotonin in plasma samples obtained from clinically normal ponies and ponies predisposed to laminitis.

Sample Population—Cecal contents obtained from 10 ponies euthanatized at an abattoir and blood samples obtained from 42 adult ponies.

Procedure—Cecal contents were assayed for amines by high-performance liquid chromatography (HPLC). Blood samples were collected at various times of the year from 20 ponies predisposed to acute laminitis and 22 clinically normal ponies. Plasma serotonin concentration was measured by HPLC, and tryptamine (TRP), tyramine (TYR), phenylethylamine (PEA), and isoamylamine (IAA) were measured by liquid chromatography- mass spectrometry.

Results—15 amines were identified in cecal contents. Plasma TRP, TYR, PEA, and IAA concentrations ranged from 10pM to 100nM in both groups of ponies. Plasma concentrations of serotonin or other amines did not differ between clinically normal ponies and those predisposed to laminitis; however, significantly higher concentrations of TRP, PEA, and IAA were found in samples obtained in the spring, compared with winter samples.

Conclusions and Clinical Relevance—Various amines are found in the cecum of ponies, several of which can be detected in the plasma. Concentrations increase significantly in the spring and may reach concentrations close to the threshold for causing vasoconstriction. Release of amines from the cecum into the systemic circulation may contribute to hemodynamic disturbances in horses and ponies with acute laminitis. (Am J Vet Res 2003;64:1132–1138)

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in American Journal of Veterinary Research