The Horse

OCT 2018

The Horse:Your Guide To Equine Health Care provides monthly equine health care information to horse owners, breeders, veterinarians, barn/farm managers, trainer/riding instructors, and others involved in the hands-on care of the horse.

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TheHorse.com | The Horse October 2018 35 When the small intestine epithe- lium gets injured, its villus structures (elongated projections) contract. The resulting reduced surface area limits the amount of toxins and bacteria that get transferred from the bowel lumen to the bloodstream. Then, the remaining cells elongate and stretch to cover the base- ment membrane that separates epithelial cells from underlying tissue. This stops unwanted substances from crossing the basement membrane. "However, in this situation, the gut isn't as efficient in absorbing nutrients or wa- ter," says Gonzalez. "Ultimately, stem cell activation is necessary to regenerate and produce new epithelial cells," to replace damaged villus structures. She says researchers studying pigs, mice, and humans have demonstrated that early life stress—weaning, early separation, and nutritional deficiencies— correlates with a likelihood of intestinal inflammation later in life. This phenom- enon might impact horses, as well. While there is no current data on the effects of early stress on aging and inflammation in horses, Gonzalez says it causes cellular changes to DNA, possibly causing tissue to injure more quickly and heal less easily. Diet's Role The old adage "you are what you eat" relates to many facets of equine health. "Leaky gut syndrome can occur in horses of varying body condition scores, often due to consumption of higher-starch feeds that result in acidosis and opening of tight junctions in the intestines," says Suagee-Bedore, kicking off the cycle of systemic inflammation. Because obese horses already have slightly higher levels of inflammation, she says, if they consume high-starch and -sugar feeds, the resulting inflammation burst can tip the scales of a previously balanced teeter-totter. "A lean horse may handle the sudden burst, while the obese horse's inflammatory condition is exacer- bated," she says. Horse owners can minimize causes of inflammation, to some extent, via diet. "The companion horse population is often fed grains or sweet feed despite already being overweight," says Suagee- Bedore. "Horses should be fed more forage and fewer concentrates, particu- larly when excess energy sources aren't needed." Today, commercial low-starch feeds are available and preferable for horses that need supplemental grain. Restricted feeding practices, such as the twice-daily meals common in many barns, might injure the intestinal villi, also resulting in leaky gut. When possible, give horses free-choice access to forage. For obese horses or those suffering from equine metabolic syndrome, however, this might not be possible. Butyric acid (butyrate, a short-chain fatty acid) is important to enterocyte health, and intestinal epithelial cells use it as an energy source. A high-fiber diet amplifies intestinal bacteria's butyrate production during fermentation. Equine researchers are currently studying how butyric acid supplementation might help maintain tight junction integrity in the face of intestinal epithelial cell stress. Ask your vet about InsulinWise TM Struggling with metabolic syndrome? Available only through your veterinarian. Developed by: KPPvet.com, 859-873-2974 Research-proven to support normal insulin sensitivity and reduce the risk of laminitis in insulin-resistant horses. NEW! TH 2018-08

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