Metabolites could be key to predicting endurance horse success, researchers say

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The metabolitic signatures of Endurance horses could potentially be used to predict their performance in competition, according to researchers.

Researchers in Qatar said performance in Endurance racing depends on the interplay between physiological and metabolic processes.

“However, there is currently no parameter for estimating the readiness of animals for competition.”

Alana Halama and her fellow researchers, reporting in the journal Metabolites, set out to characterize the metabolic consequences of endurance racing and to establish a metabolic performance profile for those animals.

The study team monitored metabolite composition in blood plasma samples from 47 Arabian horses participating in endurance races, using a broad non-targeted metabolomics approach.

Every horse participated in at least one endurance race of 80, 100 or 120km, and some competed in several races.

The horses competed in 62 races in all, with 22 successful finishes recorded. Eliminations for metabolic conditions occurred in the other 40 instances.

Samples were collected from each horse before and after competition, and a total of 792 metabolites were measured.

“We found significant alterations between before and after the race in 417 molecules involved in lipids and amino acid metabolism,” the study team reported.

“Even before the race starts, we found metabolic differences between animals who completed the race and those who did not.”

They identified a set of six metabolite predictors of animal performance in endurance competition — imidazole propionate, pipecolate, ethylmalonate, 2R-3R-dihydroxybutyrate, β-hydroxy-isovalerate and X-25455.

“This study provides an in-depth characterization of metabolic alterations driven by endurance races in equines,” they concluded.

“Furthermore, we showed the feasibility of identifying potential metabolic signatures as predictors of animal performance in endurance competition.”

They said that although the identified metabolic signatures contributing to the prediction of race outcomes were only nominally significant, possibly due to the small sample size, they were distributed over the metabolic pathways identified as relevant for Endurance racing.

The study team comprised Halama, Joao Oliveira, Silvio Filho, Muhammad Qasim, Iman Achkar, Sarah Johnson, Karsten Suhre and Tatiana Vinardell, variously affiliated with Weill Cornell Medicine-Qatar, the Qatar Foundation, the Department of Endurance Racing at Al Shaqab, and Hamad Bin Khalifa University.

Halama, A.; Oliveira, J.M.; Filho, S.A.; Qasim, M.; Achkar, I.W.; Johnson, S.; Suhre, K.; Vinardell, T. Metabolic Predictors of Equine Performance in Endurance Racing. Metabolites 2021, 11, 82.

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

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