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Vet J. 2014 Jan;199(1):11-8. doi: 10.1016/j.tvjl.2013.09.064. Epub 2013 Oct 4.

Glucose homeostasis and the enteroinsular axis in the horse: a possible role in equine metabolic syndrome.

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Department of Veterinary Medicine, Utrecht University, 3584 CM Utrecht, The Netherlands. Electronic address:


One of the principal components of equine metabolic syndrome (EMS) is hyperinsulinaemia combined with insulin resistance. It has long been known that hyperinsulinaemia occurs after the development of insulin resistance. But it is also known that hyperinsulinaemia itself can induce insulin resistance and obesity and might play a key role in the development of metabolic syndrome. This review focuses on the physiology of glucose and insulin metabolism and the pathophysiological mechanisms in glucose homeostasis in the horse (compared with what is already known in humans) in order to gain insight into the pathophysiological principles underlying EMS. The review summarizes new insights on the oral uptake of glucose by the gut and the enteroinsular axis, the role of diet in incretin hormone and postprandial insulin responses, the handling of glucose by the liver, muscle and fat tissue, and the production and secretion of insulin by the pancreas under healthy and disrupted glucose homeostatic conditions in horses.


Enteroinsular axis; Equine metabolic syndrome; Glucose homeostasis; Hyperinsulinaemia; Insulin resistance

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