A study team from Lehigh University and New Bolton Center has found a link between cellular stress in laminitis cases and several human illnesses, potentially offering new drug treatments for the disease.
In affected horses, the lamellar tissue, which connects the hoof wall to the tissues in the foot, pulls away from the wall and no longer supports the coffin bone, which drives the coffin bone down, causing intense pain and lameness.
The scientists specifically investigated the endoplasmic reticulum, a membrane within cells that makes a network to transport proteins and carbohydrates to other parts of the cell. It also plays a role in the cell division, as well as the manufacturing of lipids, proteins, glycogen and other steroids.
Drs. Lynne Cassimeris, Julie Engiles and Hannah Galantino-Homer note that most laminitis occurs in horses that have endocrine problems resulting in excessive insulin, which turns on anabolic signaling pathways. The trio hypothesized that this overstimulation stressed the endoplasmic reticulum, which leads to lamellar tissue failure.
The team tested a group of horses, some with naturally occurring laminitis related to endocrine issues and a control group. They compared three biomarkers and discovered that the markers were found to be much higher in laminitic horses; in laminitic horses, the markers were highest in badly affected limbs compared to their unaffected or less-affected limbs.
Finding that the endoplasmic reticulum stress pathway is active in laminitic horses encourages scientists to explore what human diseases also share this activation, like type 2 diabetes. The study team reports that the pharmacological options available to humans with diseases that stress the endoplasmic reticulum should be investigated to determine if they can be used in laminitic horses as treatment and prevention.
Read the full study here.
Read more at HorseTalk.
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