Researchers at the University of California, Davis (UC Davis), School of Veterinary Medicine are publishing a report on "Investigation of vitamin E metabolism in horses and the effect of supplementation." The researchers are Birgit Puschner, DVM, PhD, DABVT, Carrie J. Finno, DVM, PhD, DACVIM, and Xiaopeng Chen, PhD.
Following is the information from UC Davis on this research.
"Vitamin E (vitE) is one of the most important fat-soluble vitamins and horses obtain most of their vitE from fresh pasture. Understanding the metabolic pathways of vitE is essential to define optimal dietary vitE intake in horses. Additionally, the cause for equine neuroaxonal dystrophy (eNAD) remains unknown but may be due to altered vitE metabolism. We were able to develop reliable assays to detect concentrations of vitE isoforms (α-tocopherol, γ-tocopherol, α-tocotrienol, γ-tocotrienol) and metabolites (α –CMBHC, α –CEHC and γ-CEHC) in serum and urine from healthy horses with adequate access to fresh pasture. Once we established reference ranges, we assayed them in a group of healthy horses and eNAD-affected horses before and after administration of 5000 IU of α-tocopherol orally. We found that horses with eNAD metabolized α-tocopherol more rapidly than unaffected horses. These results support the current hypothesis that the etiology of eNAD involves a genetic defect leading to abnormal metabolism of vitamin E."
How Does This Research Benefit Horses?
"We have developed an assay to measure concentrations of vitE isoforms and metabolites in equine serum and urine samples. Preliminary results from this study indicate that this could potentially serve as an antemortem diagnostic test for eNAD; however, we will first validate these findings in a larger study population."
This research is in press with the Journal of Veterinary Diagnostic Investigation.