There's some good news for people suffering from allergies to horses: not all horses trigger the same sorts of allergic reactions. German research has found that some equine breeds elicit a lesser allergic reaction in people than others.
Researcher Eva Zahradnik from the Ruhr-University Bochum published a study in PLOS ONE on the Bashkir Curly Horse, which is claimed to be hypoallergenic. The dander from a horse's skin is the cause of allergies; increased sebum content in the Bashkir Curly's skin could be the reason why the horse releases less allergens in the air.
Zahradnik and her team used 224 hair samples from 32 different breeds of horse to test allergy levels. Researchers discovered up to a four-fold difference in antigen and allergen levels between the horses. Breed and gender played key roles in results.
Ironically, Curly horses had much higher concentrations of all tested parameters than the other horses. Other breeds that showed reduced allergen levels were Shetland ponies, Icelandic horses and Gypsy Vanners. Stallions had higher horse dander antigens than mares or geldings.
The research team concluded that breed and sex played a significant role in the antigen and allergen levels of horse hair, but that individual horses varied widely in how many allergens they shed. Curly horses did not have lower allergen levels in their hair; there is no molecular reason why they are considered hypoallergenic. More research is needed to determine why people with equine allergies have fewer symptoms when handling Curly horses.
Read more at HorseTalk.
Read the full study at PloS ONE.
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