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J Anim Sci. 2006 Sep;84(9):2391-8.

Meal size and feeding frequency influence serum leptin concentration in yearling horses.

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Department of Medical Physiology, Texas A&M University Health Science Center, College Station, Texas 77843, USA.


Energy is an essential nutrient for all horses, and it is especially important in performance horses, pregnant and lactating mares, and young growing horses. A negative energy balance in horses such as these may result in unsatisfactory performance, decreased fertility, or slow growth. Therefore, ensuring adequate energy intake is an important aspect of the nutritional management of the equine. This study was undertaken to investigate the effects of feeding large, carbohydrate-rich, concentrate meals on the satiety-inducing hormone, leptin. Three groups of yearling horses were rotated through 3 feeding schedules in a replicated 3x3 Latin square design. Horses were fed 2, 3, or 4 times per day (2x, 3x, and 4xfeeding schedules, respectively), each for a period of 11 d, with the total amount of daily feed held constant. Horses were weighed and BCS was determined on the first day of each period. Blood samples were collected before the morning meal on d 1, 4, and 7 of each period. Additionally, blood was sampled for the last 24 h of the 2xand 4xdietary periods. Neither weight nor BCS changed during the study (P = 0.99 and P = 0.28, respectively). Both mean and peak plasma glucose were greatest in 2xhorses (P < 0.05), as were mean areas under the curve. Serum leptin concentration increased in 2xhorses (P < 0.05), but not in horses fed 3 or 4 times daily. Leptin was elevated in horses with greater BCS (P < 0.05) and increased steadily throughout the study (P < 0.05). Data from the 24-h collection indicated that 2xhorses had fluctuations in leptin production throughout the day (P < 0.05), whereas horses fed 4 times daily did not. Overall, this study indicates that feeding horses 2 large concentrate meals daily can increase mean serum leptin concentrations and may cause fluctuations in leptin production over a 24-h period. This departure from baseline leptin concentration has the potential to affect appetite, along with numerous other physiological processes.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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