Sugar spurs healthy equine fertility
Carbondale, Ill. - The plant-based sugar, mannose, can cure and prevent endometritis, a uterine infection causing mare infertility, a scientist reports.
"We use it with all the problem mares that we breed, and they've gotten pregnant every time," says Sheryl S. King, who leads the horse program at Southern Illinois University Carbondale.
Endometritis is an inflammation of the uterine lining that is usually caused by bacteria.
The treatment developed by King targets three bacterial strains, including a variety that is costly to treat. It can be applied by mixing mannose in a salt solution and flushing it through the uterus or by adding mannose to the semen extender used in artificial insemination.
The salt solution inhibits inflammation-causing bacteria from connecting to uterine tissue. But the semen solution is not necessarily a surefire method, says King. A mannose-filled semen extender does prevent infection in healthy mares without a drop in pregnancy rates, yet infected mares inseminated with the semen usually fail to conceive.
King recommends a combination of both treatments. Use the mannose-salt solution to flush the uterus then inseminate the mare with mannose extender.
"It works every time," she says.
The treatment is not commercially available and King does not expect that to change anytime soon.
"Even though this works marvelously, it's not a technology - it's a sugar, and sugars are everywhere," she says. "Drug companies will not be interested in this because its use as a drug can never be patented."
For additional reports on this research, look up Volume 61 of the American
Journal of Veterinary Research and Volumes 13 and 18 of the Journal of Equine