Laminitis -- a complex, common and often devastating disease -- is the second biggest killer of domestic horses. Now a body of important research on it has been compiled and shared online for equine vets and others to access.
As knowledge of the pathophysiology, diagnosis and treatment of the deadly condition continues to grow, the Equine Veterinary Journal (EVJ) has published Understanding and managing equine endocrinopathic laminitis, a special online collection of 27 papers and three accompanying editorials compiled by EVJ Associate Editor Nicola Menzies-Gow and QUT's Dr Melody de Laat.
Over the past ten years researchers have made great strides in understanding the pathophysiology of endocrinopathic laminitis. Dr de Laat summarised the collection's papers on the links between insulin dysregulation, equine metabolic syndrome (EMS), pituitary pars intermedia dysfunction (PPID) and laminitis.
"We have defined insulin is the key player in endocrinopathic laminitis. We know horses and ponies with EMS and PPID are at an increased risk for developing endocrinopathic laminitis and we have come to understand that it's insulin dysregulation in these animals which is helping to drive the laminitis," said Dr de Laat.
She added there was much discussion about the role of obesity in laminitis. A couple of pathophysiology articles in the collection look at the fact that generalised obesity isn't necessarily a factor of endocrinopathic laminitis.
"What's actually going on in the foot of an animal with laminitis is still little understood. Several papers focus on lamellar lesions. Others look at the role that growth factor receptors may play in the disease," Dr de Laat said.
"I am really optimistic that within the next ten years we are going to be able to understand the pathophysiology of this condition really well. And then we'll be able to turn our attention to new treatment options for the disease, which will help horses to become pain free."
Dr Nicola Menzies-Gow's editorial reviews the collection's papers on the diagnosis of endocrinopathic laminitis. An accurate diagnosis of laminitis relies on owner recognition of the disease. One of the papers sought to validate this and identified 45% of cases diagnosed by the vet which were not recognised by owners, highlighting the need for better education of owners.
"Detection of insulin dysregulation is essential to identify animals at increased risk of endocrinopathic laminitis so that the preventative management strategies can be focused on these individual animals," says Dr Menzie-Gow, who works at the Royal Veterinary College, London.
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