Risk factors for equine osteochondrosis - DVM
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Risk factors for equine osteochondrosis
A combination of growth, nutrition and inheritance likely come into play.


DVM360 MAGAZINE


Long-term goal

"The ultimate long-term goal for everyone is that if we come up with a panel of risk factors, then we'll be able to put together a risk assessment to apply to an individual animal," says McCoy. This will help identify an individual animal as having an increased or decreased genetic risk of disease.

"If we can identify those horses with a high genetic predisposition to osteochondrosis, then we might be able to intervene early with changes to some of the management, nutrition or exercise factors that we know are important, and we may be able to help prevent disease development," says McCoy.

For high-risk horses, researchers could then start checking early for development of disease so veterinarians can make a decision about conservative management or surgical intervention at a young age, before pathology develops. The biggest risk for osteochondrosis is that, if it is left untreated, young affected horses can develop arthritis in a joint. Knowing which horses may be affected also can impact breeding decisions. Of note, horses treated early often go on to perform very well, so breeders may be reluctant to remove affected individuals from a breeding program.

"We'll have to deal with some of those decisions down the road, realizing this is a polygenic disease and there are a lot of genes involved, which complicates matters," says McCoy, "Certainly, if you know the stallion and mare both come from a high-risk line, maybe that's not a breeding you would choose to make. It's going to be one more a tool for breeders and veterinarians."

Ed Kane, PhD, is a researcher and consultant in animal nutrition. He is an author and editor on nutrition, physiology and veterinary medicine with a background in horses, pets and livestock. Kane is based in Seattle.

References

1. Wittwer C, Hamann H, Rosenberger E, et al. Prevalence of osteochondrosis in the limb joints of South German Coldblood horses. J Vet Med A Physiol Pathol Clin Med 2006;53:531-539.

2. McIlwraith CW. Summary of panel findings, in Proceedings Panel on Developmental Orthopedic Disease. American Quarter Horse Association, 1986;58.

3. Hurtig MB, Pool RR. Pathogenesis of equine osteochondrosis. In: McIlwraith CW, Trotter GW, eds. Joint diseases in the horse. Philadelphia, Pa: WB Saunders Co, 1996;335-358.

4. McIlwraith CW. Clinical aspects of osteochondritis dissecans. In: McIlwraith CW, Trotter GW, eds. Joint disease in the horse. Philadelphia, Pa: WB Saunders Co, 1996;360-383.

5. Hintz HF. Factors which influence developmental orthopedic disease, in Proceedings. American Association of Equine Practitioners, 1988;33:159-162.

6. Pool RR. Difficulties in definition of equine osteochondrosis; differentiation of developmental and acquired lesions. Eq Vet J Suppl 1993;25(S16):5-12.

7. National Research Council's Developmental Orthopedic Disease. In: Nutrient requirements of horses. 6th ed. Washington, D.C.: The National Academies Press, 2007;242-248.

8. Grøndahl AM, Dolvik NI. Heritability estimates of osteochondrosis in the tibiotarsal joint and of bony fragments in the palmar/plantar portion of the metacarpo- and metatarsophalangeal joints of horses. J Am Vet Med Assoc 1993;203:101-104.

9. van Weeren PR, Barneveld A. The effect of exercise on the distribution and manifestation of osteochondrotic lesions in the Warmblood foal. Eq Vet J Suppl 1999;31:16-25.

10. Lepeule J, Bareille N, Robert C, et al. Association of growth, feeding practices and exercise conditions with the prevalence of developmental orthopaedic disease in limbs of French foals at weaning. Prev Vet Med 2009;89:167-177.

11. Valentino LW, Lillich DJ, Gaughan EM, et al. Radiographic prevalence of osteochondrosis in yearling feral horses. Vet Comp Orthop Traumatol 1999;12:151-155.


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