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To perform lipidomic analysis of surfactant and plasma from asthmatic and healthy horses.


30 horses with clinical signs of asthma and 30 age-matched control horses.


Detailed history, physical examination, CBC, and bronchoalveolar lavage fluid (BALF) cytologies were obtained. Asthmatic horses were grouped based on their BALF inflammatory profile: severe equine asthma (SEA), mild equine asthma with neutrophilic airway inflammation (MEA-N), or mild equine asthma with eosinophilic airway inflammation (MEA-E). Each asthma group was assigned its own age-matched control group. Lipidomic analysis was completed on surfactant and plasma. Surfactant protein D (SP-D) concentrations were measured in serum and BALF.


SEA surfactant was characterized by a phospholipid deficit and altered composition (increased ceramides, decreased phosphatidylglycerol, and increased cyclic phosphatidic acid [cPA]). In comparison, MEA-N surfactant only had a decrease in select phosphatidylglycerol species and increased cPA levels. The plasma lipidomic profile was significantly different in all asthma groups compared to controls. Specifically, all groups had increased plasma phytoceramide. SEA horses had increased plasma cPA and diacylglycerol whereas MEA-N horses only had increased cPA. MEA-E horses had increases in select ceramides and dihydrocermides. Only SEA horses had significantly increased serum SP-D concentrations.


The most significant surfactant alterations were present in SEA (altered phospholipid content and composition); only mild changes were observed in MEA-N horses. The plasma lipidomic profile was significantly altered in all groups of asthmatic horses and differed among groups. Data from a larger population of asthmatic horses are needed to assess implications for diagnosis, prognosis, and treatment.

Open access
in American Journal of Veterinary Research