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Keywords:

  • Body condition;
  • Equine metabolic syndrome;
  • Leptin;
  • Lipids;
  • Plasma insulin

Background

Increased blood insulin levels are associated with an increased risk of pasture-associated laminitis in equids.

Objective

To determine the relationship between plasma insulin, leptin, and lipid levels, and measures of oxidative stress with adiposity in mature light breed horses.

Animals

300 randomly selected light breed horses, aged 4–20 years.

Methods

A random sample of horses (140 mares, 151 geldings, and 9 stallions) was drawn from the VMRCVM Equine Field Service practice client list. Evaluations occurred June 15 – August 15, 2006, with all sampling performed between 0600 and 1200 hours. Concentrate feed was withheld for at least 10 hours before sampling. Plasma was analyzed for insulin, glucose, leptin, triglycerides, nonesterified fatty acids, and measures of oxidative stress. Body condition score was determined as the average of 2 independent investigators.

Results

Overconditioned and obese horses had higher plasma insulin (< .001) and leptin (< .01) levels than optimally conditioned horses. Obese horses had higher triglyceride levels (= .006) and lower red blood cell gluthathione peroxidase activities (= .001) than optimally conditioned horses.

Conclusions and Clinical Importance

Maintaining horses at a BCS <7 might be important for decreasing the risk of pasture-associated laminitis.