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  • Author or Editor: Jocelyn L. Habershon-Butcher x
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Objective—To determine the metabolic phenotype of a group of laminitis-prone ponies when at pasture in summer, compared with when at pasture in winter.

Animals—40 ponies of various breeds predisposed to recurrent pasture-associated laminitis and 40 unaffected control ponies.

Procedures—Body condition score and size of the crest of the neck were assessed, blood samples obtained, and blood pressure measured by use of an indirect oscillometric technique, while ponies were kept on winter pasture (last week of November or beginning of December) and again on summer pasture (June). Serum insulin concentration and plasma glucose, triglyceride, uric acid, and ACTH concentrations were measured. Insulin sensitivity was calculated with proxies derived from basal serum insulin and plasma glucose concentrations.

Results—No significant differences were apparent between ponies predisposed to laminitis and control ponies during winter. However, in June, laminitis-prone ponies had increased serum insulin concentration and plasma triglyceride and uric acid concentrations, compared with control ponies. Also, laminitis-prone ponies were relatively insulin resistant, compared with control ponies. Mean blood pressure was significantly higher during summer in laminitis-prone ponies (median [interquartile range], 89.6 mm Hg [78.3 to 96.9 mm Hg]), compared with control ponies (76.8 mm Hg [69.4 to 85.2 mm Hg]).

Conclusions and Clinical Relevance—Summer pastures appear to induce metabolic responses in some ponies, leading to expression of the prelaminitic phenotype, which includes hypertension as well as insulin resistance. Signs of this metabolic syndrome may not be apparent in affected ponies during periods of grazing winter pasture. Understanding this syndrome may enable improved countermeasures to be devised to prevent laminitis.

Full access
in American Journal of Veterinary Research


Objective—To determine whether pasture, and specifically the addition of fructan carbohydrate to the diet, induces exaggerated changes in serum insulin concentration in laminitispredisposed (LP) ponies, compared with ponies with no history of the condition, and also to determine insulin responses to the dexamethasone suppression test.

Design—Prospective study.

Animals—10 LP and 11 control adult nonobese mixed-breed ponies.

Procedures—Insulin-modified IV glucose tolerance tests were performed (5 ponies/group). In diet studies, ponies were kept on pasture and then changed to a hay diet (10 ponies/group). Second, ponies were maintained on a basal hay diet (4 weeks) before being fed a hay diet supplemented with inulin (3 g/kg/d [1.4 g/lb/d]). Serum insulin and plasma glucose concentrations were analyzed before and after dietary changes. Serum cortisol and insulin concentrations were also measured in a standard dexamethasone suppression test.

Results—The LP ponies were insulin resistant (median insulin sensitivity of 0.27 × 104 L•min−1•mU−1 in LP ponies, compared with 0.64 × 104 L•min−1•mU−1 in control ponies). Median insulin concentration in LP ponies was significantly greater than that in control ponies at pasture, decreased in response to feeding hay, and was markedly increased (5.5fold) following the feeding of inulin with hay. The LP ponies had a greater increase in serum insulin concentration at 19 hours after dexamethasone administration (median, 222.9 mU/L), compared with control ponies (45.6 mU/L).

Conclusions and Clinical Relevance—Nonobese ponies predisposed to develop laminitis had compensated insulin resistance, and this phenotype was revealed by feeding plant fructan carbohydrate or by dexamethasone administration.

Full access
in Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association