Horses with equine metabolic syndrome (EMS) were found by American researchers to have less diversity among the microbes living in their intestines than healthy animals.
EMS is a growing problem among horses and is a risk factor linked to the debilitating hoof condition laminitis.
Humans with metabolic disorders have been found to have changes in the microbial makeup of their gut bacteria – known as the microbiota – as do horses with chronic and induced laminitis.
Researchers from the Gluck Equine Research Center at the University of Kentucky and the University of Guelph in Ontario noted that no research had been published to characterize the fecal microbiota in horses with EMS to see whether there were any differences when compared to metabolically normal animals.
Ten horses with the syndrome and 10 healthy control animals were used in the study.
The 10 affected horses were deemed to be affected by the syndrome on the basis of insulin resistance determined by blood testing, the levels of body fat, and either a history of laminitis or a predisposition to the disease.
Fecal samples collected from all 20 horses underwent DNA analysis to learn about the microbes present.
“EMS horses exhibited a decrease in fecal microbial diversity and there were differences in overall community structure between EMS horses and controls,” Amanda Adams and her colleagues reported in the Journal of Equine Veterinary Science.
Comparison of the fecal microbiota in horses with Equine Metabolic Syndrome (EMS) and metabolically normal controls fed a similar all forage diet
S. Elzinga, J.S. Weese, A.A. Adams
The abstract can be read here.