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Investigating the Link Between Environmental Exposure to Chemicals and Equine Metabolic Syndrome

Equine metabolic syndrome (EMS) refers to a cluster of metabolic abnormalities that may increase a horse’s risk of laminitis. These abnormalities include high blood insulin, insulin resistance and obesity or abnormal accumulation of fat (often a “cresty neck”). In a prior study of more than 600 horses, researchers discovered a possible link between EMS and a horse’s exposure to pollutants, such as herbicides and pesticides used in agriculture. This finding correlates with recent research linking environmental pollutant exposure to metabolic syndrome in humans. In this study, researchers will determine whether pollutant concentrations in plasma are correlated to abnormal metabolic measurements and significant metabolic variation in horses with EMS. Identifying the individual and environmental factors that contribute to EMS will improve veterinarians’ ability to predict disease and provide additional opportunities for prevention, either through removal of environmental risks or development of therapeutic interventions.

Principal Investigator: Dr. Molly E. McCue, University of Minnesota

Sponsors:

Study ID: D15EQ-029