Background: Obesity and insulin resistance increase the risk of laminitis in horses. Pioglitazone (PG) is an insulin-sensitizing drug used in humans that is absorbed after oral administration to horses.
Hypothesis: PG treatment will increase insulin sensitivity and transcript abundance of glucose and lipid transporters in adipose and skeletal muscle tissues.
Animals: Sixteen lean, healthy horses.
Methods: Eight horses were administered PG (1 mg/kg bodyweight PO) for 12 days before induction of insulin resistance through IV administration of lipopolysaccharide (LPS). Treated and untreated controls (CN; n = 8) were subjected to testing of peripheral insulin sensitivity and biopsies of both subcutaneous (nuchal ligament) adipose tissue and skeletal muscle before and after treatment, and 24 hours after LPS administration.
Results: PG treatment did not improve basal insulin sensitivity (CNs: 1.4 ± 0.3, PG-treated: 1.9 ± 1.3; P > .4) or mitigate LPS-induced insulin resistance (CNs: 0.4 ± 0.3, PG-treated: 0.4 ± 0.3); however, transcript abundance of glucose and lipid transporters was altered in both skeletal muscle and subcutaneous adipose tissue.
Conclusions and Clinical Importance: Either a higher dose or longer treatment period might be required for physiological effects to be observed. PG is a novel therapeutic agent requiring further investigation in horses in order to determine treatment efficacy.