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OBJECTIVE To investigate the role of the major equine acute phase protein serum amyloid A (SAA) in inflammation of equine intraarticular tissues.

SAMPLE Articular chondrocytes and fibroblast-like synoviocytes (FLSs) from 8 horses (4 horses/cell type).

PROCEDURES Chondrocytes and FLSs were stimulated in vitro for various periods up to 48 hours with cytokines (recombinant interleukin [IL]-1β, IL-6, tumor necrosis factor-α, or a combination of all 3 [IIT]) or with recombinant SAA. Gene expression of SAA, IL-6, matrix metalloproteinases (MMP)-1 and −3, and cartilage-derived retinoic acid-sensitive protein were assessed by quantitative real-time PCR assay; SAA protein was evaluated by immunoturbidimetry and denaturing isoelectric focusing and western blotting.

RESULTS All cytokine stimulation protocols increased expression of SAA mRNA and resulted in detectable SAA protein production in chondrocytes and FLSs. Isoforms of SAA in lysed chondrocytes and their culture medium corresponded to those previously detected in synovial fluid from horses with joint disease. When exposed to SAA, chondrocytes and FLSs had increased expression of IL-6, SAA, and MMP3, and chondrocytes had increased expression of MMP-1. Chondrocytes had decreased expression of cartilage-derived retinoic acid-sensitive protein.

CONCLUSIONS AND CLINICAL RELEVANCE Upregulation of SAA in chondrocytes and FLSs stimulated with proinflammatory cytokines and the proinflammatory effects of SAA suggested that SAA may be involved in key aspects of pathogenesis of the joint inflammation in horses.

Full access
in American Journal of Veterinary Research


Objective—To determine serum amyloid A (SAA) concentrations in serum and synovial fluid from healthy horses and horses with joint disease and assess the effect of repeated arthrocentesis on SAA concentrations in synovial fluid.

Animals—10 healthy horses and 21 horses with various types of joint disease.

Procedures—Serum and synovial fluid samples were obtained from each horse. In 5 of the 10 healthy horses, arthrocentesis was repeated 9 times. Concentrations of SAA were determined via immunoturbidometry.

Results—Serum and synovial fluid SAA concentrations were less than the assay detection limit in healthy horses and did not change in response to repeated arthrocentesis. Synovial fluid SAA concentrations were significantly higher in horses with suspected bacterial joint contamination or infectious arthritis, or tenovaginitis than in healthy controls, and serum concentrations were significantly higher in horses with infectious conditions than in the other groups. Neither serum nor synovial fluid SAA concentrations in horses with low-inflammation joint conditions differed significantly from those in healthy controls. Concentrations of SAA and total protein in synovial fluid were significantly correlated.

Conclusions and Clinical Relevance—Synovial fluid SAA concentration was a good marker of infectious arthritis and tenovaginitis and appeared to reflect changes in inflammatory activity. The advantages of use of SAA as a marker include the ease and speed of measurement and the fact that concentrations in synovial fluid were not influenced by repeated arthrocentesis in healthy horses. Further study of the SAA response in osteoarthritic joints to assess its usefulness in diagnosis and monitoring of osteoarthritis is warranted.

Full access
in American Journal of Veterinary Research


Objective—To compare the effects of intra-articular (IA) versus IV administration of morphine on local and systemic inflammatory responses in horses with experimentally induced acute synovitis.

Animals—8 horses.

Procedures—Each horse received the following 2 treatments 4 hours after synovitis was induced: IA administration of morphine (0.05 mg/kg) with IV administration of 1 mL of saline (0.9% NaCl) solution/100 kg, and IA administration of 1 mL of saline solution/100 kg with IV administration of morphine (0.05 mg/kg). Treatments were administered in randomized order with a washout period of 3 weeks between treatments. Before each treatment, aseptic synovitis was induced by injection of lipopolysaccharide into a radiocarpal joint. For the second treatment, the contralateral radiocarpal joint was selected. Joint swelling and skin temperature over the treated joints were recorded. Clinical examinations were performed, and blood WBC count, serum amyloid A (SAA) concentration, serum cortisol concentration, synovial fluid WBC count, synovial fluid total protein (TP) concentration, and synovial fluid SAA concentration were measured before and repeatedly during each of the two 168-hour study periods. Data were analyzed by use of ANOVA with repeated measures.

Results—IA administration of morphine resulted in significantly less joint swelling and lower synovial fluid TP and serum and synovial fluid SAA concentrations, and blood WBC count than did IV administration of morphine.

Conclusions and Clinical Relevance—IA administration of morphine exerted anti-inflammatory properties in horses with experimentally induced acute synovitis, supporting its use as a part of a balanced analgesic protocol.

Full access
in American Journal of Veterinary Research



To evaluate histologic changes and gene expression patterns in body and limb wounds in horses in response to bacterial inoculation.


Wound biopsy specimens from 6 horses collected on days 7, 14, 21, and 27 after excisional wounds (20 wounds/horse) were created over the metacarpal and metatarsal region and lateral thoracic region (body) and then inoculated or not inoculated on day 4 with Staphylococcus aureus and Pseudomonas aeruginosa.


Specimens were histologically scored for the amount of inflammation, edema, angiogenesis, fibrosis organization, and epithelialization. Quantitative PCR assays were performed to quantify gene expression of 10 inflammatory, proteolytic, fibrotic, and hypoxia-related markers involved in wound healing.


Except for gene expression of interleukin-6 on day 27 and tumor necrosis factor-α on day 14, bacterial inoculation had no significant effect on histologic scores and gene expression. Gene expression of interleukin-1β and −6, serum amyloid A, and matrix metalloproteinase-9 was higher in limb wounds versus body wounds by day 27. Gene expression of cellular communication network factor 1 was higher in limb wounds versus body wounds throughout the observation period.


The lack of clear markers of wound infection in this study reflected well-known difficulties in detecting wound infections in horses. Changes consistent with protracted inflammation were evident in limb wounds, and gene expression patterns of limb wounds shared similarities with those of chronic wounds in humans. Cellular communication network factor warrants further investigation and may be useful in elucidating the mechanisms underlying poor limb wound healing in horses.

Full access
in American Journal of Veterinary Research


OBJECTIVE To purify and characterize equine vitamin D-binding protein (VDBP) from equine serum and to evaluate plasma concentrations of VDBP in healthy horses and horses with gastrointestinal injury or disease.

ANIMALS 13 healthy laboratory animals (8 mice and 5 rabbits), 61 healthy horses, 12 horses with experimentally induced intestinal ischemia and reperfusion (IR), and 59 horses with acute gastrointestinal diseases.

PROCEDURES VDBP was purified from serum of 2 healthy horses, and recombinant equine VDBP was obtained through a commercial service. Equine VDBP was characterized by mass spectrometry. Monoclonal and polyclonal antibodies were raised against equine VDBP, and a rocket immunoelectrophoresis assay for equine VDBP was established. Plasma samples from 61 healthy horses were used to establish working VDBP reference values for study purposes. Plasma VDBP concentrations were assessed at predetermined time points in horses with IR and in horses with naturally occurring gastrointestinal diseases.

RESULTS The working reference range for plasma VDBP concentration in healthy horses was 531 to 1,382 mg/L. Plasma VDBP concentrations were significantly decreased after 1 hour of ischemia in horses with IR, compared with values prior to induction of ischemia, and were significantly lower in horses with naturally occurring gastrointestinal diseases with a colic duration of < 12 hours than in healthy horses.

CONCLUSIONS AND CLINICAL RELEVANCE Plasma VDBP concentrations were significantly decreased in horses with acute gastrointestinal injury or disease. Further studies and the development of a clinically relevant assay are needed to establish the reliability of VDBP as a diagnostic and prognostic marker in horses.

Full access
in American Journal of Veterinary Research