Using samples of laminae from a previous study that demonstrated cooling the hooves with an ice bath prevents the lamellar changes that cause laminitis, researchers from the United States and Australia examined the expression of genes that regulate inflammatory mediators affecting the cells that produce keratin.

Samples from eight normal Standardbred horses that had been subjected to a hyperinsulinemia model that causes laminitis then treated with ice baths for 48 hours were available for study. Comparisons of gene activation and expression were made between the limbs treated with the ice baths and untreated limbs as controls.

Eight of the 12 genes examined were expressed at lower levels in the hooves treated with ice baths. This suggests these genes are involved in the tissue destruction that occurs with laminitis and these same genes are known to be expressed by compromised keratin-producing cells in mice and humans.

Understanding the mechanisms of how ice baths decrease the cellular damage that occurs with laminitis at the molecular level could help scientists develop new drug therapies for the prevention and early treatment of the disease.

— Cassimeris L et al. Vet Immunology and Immunopath 2021;241:110326

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