Tuesday, November 06, 2012

British Equine Laminitis Research Expands: Why Are Some Horses More at Risk?

New research will look at blood flow to and within the horse's foot to determine why some horses and ponies are pre-disposed to laminitis. The research will be conducted at the Royal Veterinary College in Great Britain. This plastination casting of the blood supply shows the intricate variety of types of blood vessels that serve the foot. A dead horse's foot was injected with plastination material and the foot was treated to remove all evidence of tissue except the plastination. In this model, the blood vessels of the sole were removed to allow a full view inside the foot.  Corrosion casts like this one are sold by Hoofcare Publishing for educational and professional use.
Research announcement:

Great Britain's Royal Veterinary College (RVC) and the WALTHAM® research group are pleased to announce that veterinarian Elizabeth Finding, has joined them and the WALTHAM®-led International Laminitis Consortium to start her PhD on laminitis.

Elizabeth Finding
Finding will continue the essential search into why some horses and ponies have an increased risk of laminitis.

Laminitis is well-recognised as a major global welfare issue; it is a disease causing pain and suffering in those affected. Understanding why some individuals are prone to develop this painful--and potentially fatal--condition has been one of the major goals of the Laminitis Consortium so that targeted preventative measures can be put in place.

Anecdotal information has suggested that there is often an increase in incidence in laminitis following a bout of cold frosty weather. Previous work undertaken at the RVC has suggested that temperature may influence the reactivity of certain blood vessels of the hoof.

As part of her four-year PhD project. Finding will develop novel methods of assessing blood flow so that she can analyze changes associated with diet and season. In addition, she will be comparing innovative markers of blood vessel health between those that are and are not prone to laminitis.

Finding explains: “We hypothesise that ponies prone to laminitis have a dysfunction of the cells lining the blood vessels ("endothelial cells"). This may make them less effective in generating mediators which normally continuously dilate blood vessels and thus protect against the blood vessel constriction. It is thought that abnormal constriction may be initiated by the ingestion of too much rich grass especially under adverse environmental conditions."

The WALTHAM®–initiated International Laminitis Consortium comprises world-leading equine veterinary, nutrition and research experts interested in collaborating on the important topic of laminitis. It includes Dr Nicola Menzies-Gow and Professor Jonathan Elliott of the RVC, Professor Pat Harris of the WALTHAM® Equine Studies Group, and Clare Barfoot of Mars Horsecare UK Ltd.

(End of announcement)


From Hoofcare and Lameness: Elizabeth Finding is the lead author of a paper published in June 2012 in the American Journal of Veterinary Research (AJVR), "Evaluation of a technique for measurement of flow-mediated vasodilation in healthy ponies".

In that study, Finding and her colleagues tested between-pony and within-pony variations and interobserver and intraobserver agreements of an ultrasound technique for measurement of flow-mediated vasodilation (FMD) in healthy ponies. Testing and evaluation were favorable for using this technique in future research related to laminitis.

Finding is also the author of "Flow-Mediated Vasodilation in Healthy Ponies", published in the Journal of Veterinary Internal Medicine.

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