Heaves, an asthma-like disease of horses

Authors

  • MATHILDE LECLERE,

    1. Department of Clinical Sciences, Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, Université de Montréal, St-Hyacinthe, Canada
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    • M.L. and A.L.L. participated equally in manuscript writing.

  • ANOUK LAVOIE-LAMOUREUX,

    1. Department of Clinical Sciences, Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, Université de Montréal, St-Hyacinthe, Canada
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    • M.L. and A.L.L. participated equally in manuscript writing.

  • JEAN-PIERRE LAVOIE

    Corresponding author
    1. Department of Clinical Sciences, Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, Université de Montréal, St-Hyacinthe, Canada
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  • The Authors: Jean-Pierre Lavoie is a professor in equine internal medicine at the University of Montreal. His research is focused on the study of airway inflammation and remodelling and their reversibility in an equine model of asthma. Mathilde Leclere is an equine internist and PhD candidate at the University of Montreal. Her research focuses on airway remodelling in chronic inflammation. Anouk Lavoie-Lamoureux completed her PhD in lung immunology and inflammation at the University of Montreal. Her research focused on the role of neutrophils in innate and adaptative immune responses in the equine asthma model.

  • SERIES EDITOR: DARRYL KNIGHT

Jean-Pierre Lavoie, 3200 Sicotte, Saint-Hyacinthe, St-Hyacinthe, Québec, Canada J2S 7C6. Email: jean-pierre.lavoie@umontreal.ca

ABSTRACT

Animal models have been developed to investigate specific components of asthmatic airway inflammation, hyper-responsiveness or remodelling. However, all of these aspects are rarely observed in the same animal. Heaves is a naturally occurring disease of horses that combines these features. It is characterized by stable dust-induced inflammation, bronchospasm and remodelling. The evaluation of horses during well-controlled natural antigen exposure and avoidance in experimental settings allows the study of disease mechanisms in the asymptomatic and symptomatic stages, an approach rarely feasible in humans. Also, the disease can be followed over several years to observe the cumulative effect of repeated episodes of clinical exacerbation or to evaluate long-term treatment, contrasting most murine asthma models. This model has shown complex gene and environment interactions, the involvement of both innate and adaptive responses to inflammation, and the contribution of bronchospasm and tissue remodelling to airway obstruction, all occurring in a natural setting. Similarities with the human asthmatic airways are well described and the model is currently being used to evaluate airway remodelling and its reversibility in ways that are not possible in people for ethical reasons. Tools including antibodies, recombinant proteins or gene arrays, as well as methods for sampling tissues and assessing lung function in the horse are constantly evolving to facilitate the study of this animal model. Research perspectives that can be relevant to asthma include the role of neutrophils in airway inflammation and their response to corticosteroids, systemic response to pulmonary inflammation, and maintaining athletic capacities with early intervention.

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