Relationships between Body Condition Score and Plasma Inflammatory Cytokines, Insulin, and Lipids in a Mixed Population of Light-Breed Horses

J. K. Suagee, B. A. Corl, M. V. Crisman, R. S. Pleasant, Craig Thatcher, R. J. Geor

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

76 Scopus citations


Background: Obesity and hyperinsulinemia increase the risk of laminitis in horses and ponies. In mares, obesity also has been associated with increased circulating concentrations of the proinflammatory cytokine, tumor necrosis factor (TNF)-α. The association of other proinflammatory cytokines with body condition score (BCS) and insulin requires further determination. Hypothesis: Plasma concentrations of TNF, interleukin (IL)-1β, IL-6, and serum amyloid A (SAA) will positively correlate with BCS or insulin or both in horses. Furthermore, inflammatory protein concentrations will correlate with age and variables associated with BCS, including plasma insulin, triglycerides, nonesterified fatty acids, and leptin concentrations. Animals: One hundred and ten mixed light-breed horses, including mares, geldings, and stallions, aged 4-20 years. Methods: Samples were selected from a larger population of plasma samples previously collected during June-July of 2006. Samples were analyzed for TNF, IL-1β, IL-6, and SAA using commercially available ELISAs and simple correlations were used to determine relationships with BCS, insulin, age, and sex. Results: Plasma TNF (P = .047) and IL-6 (P = .021) concentrations were higher in females than males, whereas IL-6 concentrations correlated (P = .001) with age. Plasma SAA concentrations correlated with both insulin (P < .001) and BCS (P = .007). Conclusions and Clinical Importance: This study provides evidence for factors, including age and sex, that may be associated with plasma concentrations of inflammatory proteins. Concentrations of SAA correlated with BCS and insulin, independent of age or sex. Because BCS and insulin correlate with increased SAA, it is possible that SAA is a component of laminitis pathophysiology.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)157-163
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Veterinary Internal Medicine
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2013


  • Interleukin
  • Obesity
  • Serum amyloid A
  • Tumor necrosis factor

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Veterinary


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