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J Anim Sci. 2011 Jan;89(1):77-83. doi: 10.2527/jas.2010-3108. Epub 2010 Sep 24.

Dietary supplementation with short-chain fructo-oligosaccharides improves insulin sensitivity in obese horses.

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SYRAL, 67390 Marckolsheim, France.


Obesity and insulin resistance are risk factors for laminitis in horses and ponies, and diet can play an important role in modulating these risk factors. Dietary supplementation with prebiotic fibers, such as short-chain fructo-oligosaccharides (scFOS), has resulted in improvement of insulin sensitivity in obese dogs and rodents. Thus, we hypothesized that scFOS may reduce insulin resistance in obese horses and designed a study to evaluate the effect of dietary supplementation with scFOS on insulin sensitivity. Eight mature Arabian geldings (BW = 523.0 ± 56.5 kg) with an average BCS of 8 were included in a crossover study. In each period, 4 horses were provided 45 g/d per horse of maltodextrin (control) and 4 horses received the same amount of scFOS for 6 wk, with a 3-wk washout between periods. Resting plasma concentrations of glucose, insulin, triglycerides, and leptin were measured. Minimal model analysis of a frequently sampled intravenous glucose tolerance test was used to evaluate insulin sensitivity, glucose effectiveness, acute insulin response to glucose, and disposition index. Without affecting BW and BCS, dietary supplementation with scFOS increased (P < 0.05) insulin sensitivity and reduced (P < 0.05) acute insulin response to glucose in comparison with maltodextrin but did not alter (P > 0.05) glucose effectiveness and disposition index. Resting serum insulin concentration also was reduced (P < 0.05) by scFOS supplementation but not by maltodextrin (P > 0.05). There was no effect (P > 0.05) of scFOS supplementation on plasma glucose or serum triglyceride and leptin concentrations. This study demonstrated that scFOS can moderately improve insulin sensitivity of obese horses, a finding that has potential relevance to the dietary management of obese, insulin-resistant horses at increased risk for laminitis.

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