Monday, March 02, 2015

Laminitis Research: Milk Thistle Tested in Laboratory for Possible Endotoxin Neutralization

Researchers in Vienna, Austria have conducted in vitro studies of the 
milk thistle plant to determine its effect on laminar tissue during 
separation caused by endotoxin introduction.

Laminitis research has created protocols for testing the effects of different substances on samples of equine hoof tissue. One of these protocols is the introduction of endotoxins, or lipopolysaccharides (LPS), which will reliably cause a separation and degradation of the lamina under laboratory conditions.

In living horses, endotoxin has been targeted in multiple studies seeking to explain its exact role in laminitis, particularly the septic form of the disease. Endotoxins produced in the lower digestive tract may trigger further cascading effects in the horse's system that eventually result in breakdown of the laminar tissue. However, the exact mechanism of endotoxin in laminitis is not completely understood.

Laminitis researchers may use an endotoxin induction protocol in the laboratory on hoof tissue; they will introduce various agents to test the resulting separation in the hoof: did the lamina separate more or less quickly, more or less severely than controls? What was the effect of the timing and amount of the agent introduced during the process? 

Can an aid to treat laminitis be found
nature? (Juanfmo8 photo)
In the fall, a paper published in the open-access, peer-reviewed journal Toxins (Multidisciplinary Digital Publishing Institute, MDPI AG, Basel, Switzerland) detailed early testing of the milk thistle plant as a possible aid to horses with laminitis problems. The research was conducted in Austria.

Milk thistle and silymarin both have anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties and the researchers' hypothesis was that they might be protective of the integrity of the hoof tissue by neutralizing the endotoxin (LPS) effects.

From the study abstract: In preliminary tests, LPS neutralization efficiency of these phytogenics was determined in an in vitro neutralization assay.

Furthermore, tissue explants gained from hooves of slaughter horses were tested for lamellar separation after incubation with different concentrations of LPS. This study showed that LPS had a negative influence on the structure of hoof explants in vitro.

Milk thistle (MT) and silymarin reduced endotoxin activity and inhibited LPS-induced effects on the lamellar tissue. Hence, MT and silymarin might be used to support the prevention of laminitis and should be further evaluated for this application.

Read and/or download the full paper from Toxins here:

Milk Thistle Extract and Silymarin Inhibit Lipopolysaccharide Induced Lamellar Separation of Hoof Explants in Vitro

Reisinger, N., Schaumberger, S., Nagl, V., Hessenberger, S., & Schatzmayr, G. (2014). Milk Thistle Extract and Silymarin Inhibit Lipopolysaccharide Induced Lamellar Separation of Hoof Explants in VitroToxins6(10), 2962–2974. doi:10.3390/toxins6102962

To learn more:

Read the American Cancer Society's summary document on milk thistle as a proposed cancer medication and liver protectant.

Read "Pharmacokinetics and safety of silibinin in horses" by Eileen Hackett et al at Colorado State University, published in the American Journal of Veterinary Research in 2013.

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