Metabolic profiling shows value in identifying horses at risk from equine metabolic syndrome

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Metabolic profiling could be useful in detecting horses at risk from equine metabolic syndrome (EMS), according to researchers.

The scientists employed metabolomics, the study of molecules involved in cellular metabolism such as nucleotides, amino acids, fatty acids, and carbohydrates. Samples are tested to provide a wide picture of the biochemical components they contain.

They conducted an experiment in which serum samples were taken for analysis from 20 Welsh ponies with and without insulin dysregulation before and during an oral sugar test.

Their employment of metabolomic profiling revealed significant differences between the ponies with insulin dysregulation and those without.

Michigan State University researcher Sarah Jacob and her colleagues described their findings in relation to 646 metabolities in the Journal of Veterinary Internal Medicine.

At baseline, 55 metabolites (insulin response), 91 metabolites (obesity status), and 136 metabolites (laminitis history) were different. This pointed to the different phenotypes of ponies with and without EMS.

In serum taken 75 minutes after each pony was given Karo syrup, 51 metabolites (insulin response), 102 metabolites (obesity status), and 124 metabolites (laminitis history) were different.

Metabolomics could be useful for early detection of EMS, they said, and provide new knowledge regarding the pathophysiology of metabolic perturbations associated with this condition.

This, in turn, might lead to improved clinical management.

The study team said metabolomic profiling was a relevant approach for further defining metabolic alterations because of insulin dysregulation and obesity in horses.

“Examination of the serum metabolome of this Welsh Pony cohort demonstrated significant differences in metabolites primarily derived from the lipid and amino acid pathways when comparing ponies grouped by each EMS phenotype (insulin response, obesity status, and laminitis history).”

The evidence suggested that metabolites might be useful for linking obesity and insulin dysregulation to other components of the EMS phenotype.

“Our results clearly demonstrate the potential of serum metabolomics to provide insight into molecular pathophysiology and to define a metabolomic signature for EMS.”

The study team comprised Jacob; Kevin Murray, Aaron Rendahl, Nichol Schultz and Molly McCue, all from the University of Minnesota; and Raymond J. Geor, from Massey University in New Zealand.

Metabolic perturbations in Welsh Ponies with insulin dysregulation, obesity, and laminitis
Sarah I. Jacob, Kevin J. Murray, Aaron K. Rendahl, Raymond J. Geor, Nichol E. Schultz, Molly E. McCue.
Journal of Veterinary Internal Medicine https://doi.org/10.1111/jvim.15095

The study, published under a Creative Commons License, can be read here

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