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Understanding bacterial infections in horses

Summary: Using cultured cells, researchers will study how the horse’s immune system responds to endotoxins, toxic substances in bacteria responsible for many horse diseases, including gastrointestinal disease and foal sepsis.

Description: Endotoxins bind to bacterial cell walls and are released when the bacterium ruptures or disintegrates. Endotoxins stimulate the immune system, which leads to inflammation and contributes to severe illness associated with many common equine health challenges. These include diarrhea, gastrointestinal disease, and foal infections. Immune cells react to endotoxins by producing a group of small molecular particles called micro-RNAs that turn on and off specific genes that direct inflammation. Researchers will expose immune cells to endotoxins to study the microRNAs they produce. Findings will improve our understanding of microRNA response to bacterial endotoxins which will help researchers develop more effective methods for detecting and treating bacterial infections and associated inflammation in horses.


INVESTIGATOR: Dr. Virginia A Buechner-Maxwell, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University