Endocrinology Summit Addresses Laminitis

The leading scientific researchers in Equine Metabolic Syndrome (EMS) gathered in Boston on September 7-8 under the direction of Dr. Nicholas Frank, professor and chair of the Department of Clinical Sciences in Large Animal Internal Medicine of the Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine at Tufts University. The Animal Health Foundation summit was sponsored by Boehringer Ingelheim Vetmedica’s Equine Division.

The conference presented the latest research findings and discussed the future research most needed to prevent horses from developing this type of painful laminitis. Although EMS was the main subject, some time was delegated to hearing the latest information regarding PPID (Cushing’s Disease). Both conditions are extremely relevant to laminitis, since so many affected horses develop laminitis. To understand this type of laminitis, research is exploring endocrine processes that may initiate laminitis. While EMS and PPID were the area of great interest this year, the summit has previously covered other endocrine disorders.

Both EMS and PPID can result in laminitis. The changes start to occur when insulin levels are elevated for a prolonged time, causing alterations in the growth pattern of the foot. This results in abnormal rings on the external hoof capsule and a separation in the hoof wall at the toe, when seen from the bottom of the foot. Early recognition and correction of the insulin level is essential to prevent laminitis.

The Animal Health Foundation has provided financial support for international laminitis research for more than 20 years. Many major breakthroughs in the understanding of the disease have been accomplished with AHF funding by researchers at the Australian Equine Laminitis Research Unit (University of Queensland), University of Missouri College of Veterinary Medicine and Cornell University, as well as by independent professional researchers like forage specialist Kathryn Watts of safergrass.org.

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