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Redox Rep. 2006;11(2):46-52.

The role of oxidative stress in an equine model of human asthma.

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  • 1Animal Health Trust, Lanwades Park, Kentford, Suffolk, UK.


Equine recurrent airway obstruction (RAO) is a naturally occurring respiratory disease in horses with many similarities to human asthma and, as a result, has been used as an animal model of this disease. Oxidative stress has been demonstrated to occur in a range of respiratory diseases in human beings including asthma. Quantitatively, horses have a greater non-enzymatic antioxidant capacity in the pulmonary epithelial lining fluid compared to human beings due to high ascorbic acid concentrations, which reflects their ability to synthesise ascorbic acid. Consequently, a greater oxidative load is likely to be required to induce oxidative stress in horses compared to human beings. Induction of acute neutrophilic airway inflammation in RAO horses by exposure to organic dust does not result in marked pulmonary oxidative stress. However, with a more prolonged inflammatory response, the antioxidant capacity is depleted and oxidative stress occurs. Despite the clear evidence of oxidative stress in RAO, there is currently limited data linking oxidative stress with a causal role in the development of the pathophysiological features of RAO, namely airway obstruction, airway hyper-responsiveness, airway inflammation and mucus accumulation. However, pathways do exist whereby oxidants could potentially augment the production of important mediators in RAO. Further work is required to ascertain the benefits of antioxidant supplementation in RAO and to determine the role of oxidative stress in the pathogenesis of the disease. Given the similarities with human asthma, results from RAO horses could enhance the understanding of the role of oxidative stress in human asthma.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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