Laminitis can affect horses at any time, causing pain, loss of function, poor quality of life, and economic losses due to treatment. Medical therapies can sometimes help; however, many horses are unresponsive to treatment.
Considering the impact of laminitis on the equine industry, owners and veterinarians are often willing to try new treatments, including administration of stem cells and platelet-rich plasma (PRP).
“These regenerative therapies have traditionally been used for treating tendon injuries, wounds, and even joint disease,” says Kathleen Crandell, a nutritionist for Kentucky Equine Research. “More recently, however, veterinarians have been exploring the use of these treatment modalities in laminitic horses with reported success.”
Although horse owners are fortunate to have these treatment options available, there is little science to support the use of stem cells or PRP for laminitis in horses. To determine whether these therapies benefit affected animals, a group of Italian scientists used a combination of adipose-derived stem cells and PRP on nine horses with chronic laminitis.1 All horses had naturally occurring laminitis and were previously treated unsuccessfully with standard therapies.
The stem-cell/PRP mixture was administered to the horses intravenously in a digital vein. Injection was repeated once per month for 3 consecutive months. The researchers found no short or long-term adverse reactions following injection and, importantly, all horses showed improvement in blood flow, structure, and hoof function. All nine horses are reported to have returned to a comfortable quality of life.
Routine farriery, avoidance of sudden access to lush pastures or high-grain feeds, and maintenance of optimal body condition scores to minimize the development of insulin resistance and metabolic syndrome are some other ways to maintain healthy hooves and avoid life-threatening laminitis.
“In addition, a quality nutritional supplement designed to support hoof health and help with the healing process can be fed to horses with laminitis,” says Crandell.
1. Angelone, M., V. Conti, C. Biacca, et al. 2017. The contribution of adipose tissue-derived mesenchymal stem cells and platelet-rich plasma to the treatment of chronic equine laminitis: a proof of concept. International Journal of Molecular Science. 18(10). pii: E2122.
Article courtesy of Kentucky Equine Research. Visit equinews.com/newsletters to subscribe to The Weekly Feed, KER’s award-winning equine nutrition newsletter.