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  • Author or Editor: Lindsey A. George x
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Objective—To characterize the effects of pregnancy on insulin sensitivity (SI) and glucose dynamics in pasture-maintained mares fed supplemental feeds of differing energy composition.

Animals—Pregnant (n = 22) and nonpregnant (10) healthy Thoroughbred mares.

Procedures—Pregnant and nonpregnant mares underwent frequently sampled intravenous glucose tolerance tests at 2 times (period 1, 25 to 31 weeks of gestation; period 2, 47 weeks of gestation). Following period 1 measurements, mares were provided a high-starch (HS; 39% starch) or high-fat and -fiber (14% fat and 70% fiber) supplemental feed. From a subset of mares (n = 12), blood samples were collected hourly for 24 hours to assess glycemic and insulinemic response to feeding while pastured. The minimal model of glucose and insulin dynamics was used to estimate SI, glucose effectiveness, and acute insulin response to glucose from tolerance testing data.

Results—Pregnant mares during period 1 had a lower SI and glucose effectiveness and higher acute insulin response to glucose than did nonpregnant mares. The SI value decreased in nonpregnant but not pregnant mares from periods 1 to 2. Pregnant mares fed HS feed had a greater glycemic and insulinemic response to feeding than did any other group.

Conclusions and Clinical Relevance—Pregnant mares had slower glucose clearance and greater insulin secretion at 28 weeks of gestation than did nonpregnant mares. Glucose and insulin responses to meal feeding, particularly with HS feed, were greater in pregnant mares, indicating that pregnancy enhanced the postprandial glycemic and insulinemic effects of starch-rich feed supplements.

Full access
in American Journal of Veterinary Research


Objective—To determine the effects of diet-induced weight gain on glucose and insulin dynamics and plasma hormone and lipid concentrations in horses.

Animals—13 adult geldings.

Procedures—Horses were fed 200% of their digestible energy requirements for maintenance for 16 weeks to induce weight gain. Frequently sampled IV glucose tolerance tests were performed before and after weight gain to evaluate glucose and insulin dynamics. Adiposity (assessed via condition scoring, morphometric measurements, and subcutaneous fat depth) and plasma concentrations of insulin, glucose, nonesterified fatty acids, triglycerides, and leptin were measured on a weekly or biweekly basis.

Results—Mean ± SD body weight increased by 20% from 440 ± 44 kg to 526 ± 53 kg, and body condition score (scale, 1 to 9) increased from 6 ± 1to8 ± 1. Plasma glucose, triglyceride, and nonesterified fatty acid concentrations were similar before and after weight gain. Leptin and insulin concentrations increased with weight gain. Mean ± SD insulin sensitivity decreased by 71 ± 28%, accompanied by a 408 ± 201% increase in acute insulin response to glucose, which resulted in similar disposition index before and after weight gain.

Conclusions and Clinical Relevance—Diet-induced weight gain in horses occurred concurrently with decreased insulin sensitivity that was effectively compensated for by an increase in insulin secretory response. Obesity resulted in hyperinsulinemia and hyperleptinemia, compared with baseline values, but no changes in lipid concentrations were apparent. Preventing obesity is a potential strategy to help avoid insulin resistance, hyperinsulinemia, and hyperleptinemia in horses.

Full access
in American Journal of Veterinary Research