Hoof Nutrition Intelligence Hoof Nutrition Intelligence is a twice-a-month web segment that is designed to add to the education of footcare professionals when it comes to effectively feeding the hoof. The goal of this web-exclusive feature is to zero in on specific areas of hoof nutrition and avoid broad-based articles that simply look at the overall equine feeding situation.

Below you will find Part 2 of the latest question and answer installment that you can share with your footcare clients.

Q: Is there any link between insulin and laminitis?

By Laura Petroski-Rose, B.V.M.S.

A: Laminitis, which is the painful separation of laminae between the foot and hoof, occurs for many reasons. Examples include inflammation secondary to infection, carbohydrate overload, black walnut ingestion and insulin dysregulation.

Research shows that laminitis secondary to inflammation is distinct from other forms of laminitis. This includes endocrinopathic laminitis, which is frequently seen in horses with equine metabolic syndrome.

Veterinarians have devised several hypotheses to explain the unique features that are associated with endocrinopathic laminitis. Some researchers believe high levels of insulin stimulate the growth of various cell types by activating the insulin-like growth factor-1 (IGF-1). In turn, the stimulation of IGF-1 receptors initiates a cascade of events that causes the abnormal growth of specific cells found in the lamella, contributing to the development of laminitis.

This abnormal growth causes disorganized cells, potentially contributing to weak lamella.

A recent study confirmed the presence of IGF-1 receptors on lamellar cells. When exposed to insulin in cell cultures in the laboratory, those lamellar cells were stimulated to grow in a concentration-dependent manner.

Administering an IGF-1 blocker significantly decreased the impact of insulin on lamellar cell growth. We know diet and exercise play important roles in the management of equine metabolic syndrome and insulin dysregulation.

Laura Petroski-Rose is an equine veterinarian with Kentucky Equine Research in Versailles, Ky.

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Click here to read part 1 of the Feb. 1, 2020 installment of Hoof Nutrition Intelligence: Is it OK to feed bran to a mare with poor quality hooves?

Click here to read more installments of Hoof Nutrition Intelligence.