Phospholipids in sera of horses with summer eczema: Lipid analysis of the autoserum preparation used in therapy



Reasons for performing study

Equine summer eczema, also known as insect bite hypersensitivity, affects horses recurrently during summer months. The treatment of this allergic pruritus is difficult and therefore there is a need for efficacious treatments. Autoserum therapy, based on the use of autogenous serum that is specifically prepared for oral administration and given when the animal shows clinical signs has been introduced recently. Lipids are thought to be responsible for the effect of this therapy.


The main aim of this study was to analyse the phospholipid content of autogenous serum preparations and to further assess whether these preparations have different lipid profiles depending on the clinical status of the horse. The hypothesis is that the major serum phospholipids typical of the horse are present in the autoserum preparation.

Study design

Descriptive controlled clinical study.


Sera were collected from 10 affected and 6 healthy horses, prepared in a similar fashion and the lipids contained in the resulting autoserum preparations were analysed by electrospray ionisation mass spectrometry.


The major phospholipid classes detected were phosphatidylcholine, sphingomyelin, phosphatidic acid and traces of lysophosphatidylcholine. Horses with summer eczema had significantly abundant concentrations of phosphatidylcholine (P = 0.042) and sphingomyelin (P = 0.0017) in comparison with healthy horses, while the concentration of phosphatidic acid was significantly higher in healthy horses (P = 0.0075).


The autoserum preparation contains minute amounts of the main serum phospholipids in differing concentrations in healthy horses and horses with an allergic skin disease.