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Neuromuscul Disord. 2006 Nov;16(11):737-44. Epub 2006 Sep 26.

Myopathy in horses with pituitary pars intermedia dysfunction (Cushing's disease).

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Department of Veterinary Medicine and Epidemiology, University of California, Davis, USA.


Fifteen horses with pituitary pars intermedia dysfunction were studied. The horses were of various breeds and between 15 and 28 years of age. Control horses matched for breed and age were studied for comparison. Evaluations included complete blood cell count and serum biochemical analysis, electromyography, and gluteus medius muscle biopsies for histochemical, morphometric, and ultrastructural analysis. No differences were found between groups of horses on routine laboratory analysis or electromyography. We demonstrated that muscle wasting in diseased horses was the result of atrophy of types 2A and 2B muscle fibers and loss of type 2B myofibers. Mild non-specific non-inflammatory myopathic alterations such as myofiber size variation, internal nuclei, perimysial, endomysial and sarcoplasmic fat accumulation were observed. At the ultrastructural level, subsarcolemmal mitochondrial accumulation and increased lipid droplets were evident. Similar to other species, this study confirmed atrophy of type 2 fibers as the cause of muscle mass loss in horses with Cushing's disease.

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