Relationship between markers of blood oxidant status and physiological variables in healthy and heaves-affected horses after exercise


Laboratory for Functional Investigation, Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, University of Liège, Liège, Belgium


Exercise-induced oxidative stress is investigated as a potential performance-limiting factor in human sports medicine. Therefore, the present study aimed to assess whether physiological variables that change with exercise intensity were correlated with blood oxidant markers in healthy and heaves-affected horses. Seven healthy horses, 8 heaves-affected in remission and 7 heaves-affected in crisis performed a standardised exercise test (SET) of stepwise increasing intensity. Variables monitored during exercise were heart rate (HR), venous plasma lactate (LA), packed cell volume (PCV) and arterial oxygen tension (PaO2). Oxidant markers (uric acid [UA], 8-iso-PGF and reduced [GSH] and oxidised glutathione [GSSG]) were analysed in venous peripheral blood sampled at rest (R), at peak-exercise intensity (Emax), 15 (E15) and 60 (E60) min after SET. There was a significant effect of heaves on oxidant markers and, therefore, correlation analyses between physiological variables and oxidant markers were performed separately per horse group. In healthy horses, UA analysed at Emax was positively correlated with LA. Furthermore, GSH analysed at Emax and E15 was positively correlated with PaO2. In healthy and heaves-affected horses in remission, GSH and GSSG determined at Emax were negatively correlated with HR. There was no significant correlation between 8-iso-PGF and physiological variables. In conclusion, a correlation between the physiological response to exercise and some oxidant markers exists in healthy horses. However, in heaves-affected horses the blood oxidant status is probably more dependant on airway disease than on exercise. Future studies should be undertaken to assess whether antioxidant supplementation might positively influence the oxidant-antiodidant balance in exercising horses.