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Equine Vet J Suppl. 2010 Nov;(38):323-8. doi: 10.1111/j.2042-3306.2010.00199.x.

Effect of fitness on glucose, insulin and cortisol responses to diets varying in starch and fat content in Thoroughbred horses with recurrent exertional rhabdomyolysis.

Author information

1
University of Minnesota Veterinary Medical Center, USA. cjfinno@ucdavis.edu

Abstract

REASONS FOR PERFORMING STUDY:

Recurrent exertional rhabdomyolysis (RER) occurs in fit, nervous Thoroughbreds fed high nonstructural carbohydrate (NSC) diets. Clinical signs are diminished by feeding low NSC, high fat diets; however, the mechanism is unclear.

OBJECTIVE:

To determine if the glucose, insulin and cortisol response to isocaloric diets varying in fat and NSC availability differ in fit vs. unfit Thoroughbreds with RER.

MATERIALS AND METHODS:

Four fit (10 weeks treadmill training) RER Thoroughbred mares were exercised and fed 3 isocaloric (121 MJ/day) diets in a 5 day/diet block design. Two high NSC concentrates, sweet feed (SF) and a processed pelleted feed (PL) and a low starch high fat feed (FAT) were used. After 24 h of rest and a 12 h fast, horses ate half their daily concentrate. Blood sampled for [glucose], [insulin] and [cortisol] was obtained before, immediately after and at 30-60 min intervals for 420 min. After 3-6 months detraining period, the block design was repeated.

RESULTS:

Results for SF and PL were similar. Regardless of diet, cortisol was higher in fit vs. unfit horses. Fit horses on SF/PL had higher post prandial [insulin] and insulin:glucose ratio than unfit horses. FAT resulted in lower post prandial [glucose] and [insulin] vs. SF/PL. Higher [insulin] in fit vs. unfit horses was not seen on the FAT diet.

CONCLUSIONS:

Increased post prandial [glucose], [insulin] and [cortisol] induced by high NSC, but not high fat, feeds are enhanced by fitness in RER horses. This combination may trigger rhabdomyolysis through increased excitability in RER Thoroughbreds.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]
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