Reasons for performing study: Intensive exercise induces a systemic inflammatory response characterised by an increase of blood neutrophil count and myeloperoxidase (MPO) release. Neutrophil elastase (NE) could also contribute to tissues lesions by its proteinase activities.
Objective: To compare plasmatic NE concentrations before and after different forms of intensive exercise.
Materials and methods: EDTA blood samples were taken from 51 eventing horses (EvH) and 32 endurance horses (EndH) were sampled before the race (T0). Blood sampling was performed 2 h (T1) after completing either phase D of a one or 2 star eventing competition (n = 51), or a 120 or 160 km endurance race (n = 32). Plasmatic NE and MPO were measured by a specific equine ELISA. Neutrophil counts and creatine kinase (CK) levels were also measured. A Wilcox on test for paired samples was used to compare mean values of neutrophils, CK, MPO and NE at T0 and T1 in EvH and in EndH. Correlations were calculated between all the 4 parameters in EvH and EndH.
Results: At T0, mean NE levels were 14.43 ± 3.63 ng/ml for EvH and 11.7 ± 2.11 ng/ml for EndH. The competition induced a significant increase of NE levels in (58.57 ± 24.06 ng/ml) EvH and (95.74 ± 22.70 ng/ml) EndH (P<0.05). NE was significantly (P<0.0001) correlated to MPO in EvH (r = 0.293) and EndH (r = 0.594) and to CK (r = 0.297) in EndH (P<0.0001). Neutrophils, CK and MPO were significantly increased between T0 and T1 in both types of horses.
Conclusions: Significant increase of NE (EndH) was observed after intense exercise with a significant correlation between NE and MPO. The huge variability in MPO and NE indicates that not all horses show the same intensity of systemic inflammatory response.