Effect of sodium cromoglycate on light racehorses with elevated metachromatic cell numbers on bronchoalveolar lavage and reduced exercise tolerance


Department of Biomedical Sciences, Ontario Veterinary College, University of Guelph, Guelph, Ontario, Canada NIG 2W1


Some young horses with clinical signs of small airway disease demonstrate increased metachromatic cell numbers on bronchoalveolar lavage. The purpose of this study was to determine the effect of sodium cromoglycate treatment on clinical signs, bronchoalveolar lavage cytology and bronchoalveolar lavage histamine parameters in these horses. Twelve racehorses (age: 3.4 ± 1.6 years) with a history of respiratory embarrassment at exercise, clinical signs of obstructive airway disease and bronchoalveolar lavage metachromatic cell differential greater than 2% were selected. Horses were randomly assigned to receive either 200 mg sodium cromoglycate or saline placebo nebulized twice daily for 7 days. A clinical respiratory score was assigned and bronchoalveolar lavage was performed on each animal on days 0 and 7. Measurements were made of the following bronchoalveolar lavage fluid parameters: total nucleated cell concentration, differential cell percentage and concentration, supernatant and lysate histamine concentration, lysate: supernatant histamine ratio and metachromatic cell histamine content. Between the two evaluation periods, sodium cromoglycate treated horses demonstrated an improvement in respiratory score (P = 0.01) and a stabilizing of metachromatic cell histamine content (P = 0.04) when compared with placebo treated horses. We conclude that sodium cromoglycate is effective for the treatment of small airway disease in this population of young racehorses although the pharmacodynamics of this drug in the horse require further investigation.