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Performance Trace Minerals Help with Equine Lameness and Joint Inflammation Recovery Time

4 minute read

Within the performance horse world — racing, competition and showing — many of our young and growing horses undergo extensive training, and the rigors of this training can result in localized joint inflammation causing discomfort and pain to the horse. In addition, as horses age, regardless of whether they are performance or pleasure horses, we know they can be impacted with joint inflammation issues.

One way to help manage equine joint inflammation, which can lead to arthritis in horses, and equine lameness is the inclusion of performance trace minerals, especially zinc (Zn), manganese (Mn) and copper (Cu) in equine nutrition. These trace minerals play a direct role in helping manage inflammation to enhance the well-being of the horse.

Lipopolysaccharides (LPS) — large molecules found in the outer membrane of Gram-negative bacteria — can be utilized to study an inflammatory response in a challenge model. When LPS is injected into the joint, it initiates an inflammation response that will cause breakdown and turnover of cartilage. Texas A&M University created a model to measure equine joint inflammation. Zinpro® worked with Texas A&M to research how the inclusion of Zinpro Performance Minerals® in a horse’s diet can produce a more robust inflammatory response and help the joint to recover when an LPS challenge occurs.

Growing horses were sorted into two groups:

  • Group 1 – Fed Zn, Cu, Mn sulfates and Co carbonate (INO) for a period of 56 days
  • Group 2 – Fed 4-Plex®C from Zinpro for a period of 56 days

These growing horses were then challenged with an injection of LPS into the joint to create inflammation and cartilage degradation on day 42. The other joint of the horse was injected with a saline solution to serve as the control. Blood samples were drawn immediately before the injections and then at 6, 12, 24, 168 and 336 hours after injection to determine the inflammation response.

Treating Equine Lameness and Joint Lameness

Within six hours post-injection, the horses in both groups showed a significant rise in pro-inflammatory prostaglandin (PGE2). This means that the immune system is responding to the LPS challenge.

What is interesting to note is that the PGE2 response was substantially higher in the horses fed 4-Plex C from Zinpro, resulting in a more rapid peak response to the LPS challenge. At 24 hours the PGE2 level comes down, as it should, but the horses fed the 4-Plex-C still have a higher PGE2 response.

The study also discovered that the C2C (catabolic collagenase cleavage neopeptide) — a collagen metabolism marker that provides a measure of type II collagen in the joint cartilage — levels were greater six hours post-injection. The degradation of the cartilage can be thought of as a “clean-up process” — the joint tissue needed to be degraded before it could be turned over and replaced. C2C is an indicator of the proteins working to clean-up the damaged cartilage after the presence of the LPS bacteria. This is important because it tells us that there was a faster and more robust “clean-up” response to the joint cartilage in those horses fed the 4-Plex-C from Zinpro.

Aggrecan molecules, which provide the joint with compressive strength, are measured by the CS-864 epitope marker that provides a measurement of aggrecan molecule synthesis. The horses fed the 4-Plex-C from Zinpro not only had the earliest spike in CS-864 epitope marker at 12 hours, but also the highest at 249,000 ng/mL compared to 150,000 ng/mL among the horses fed the INO trace mineral. This is important because it is indicating that the synthesis of the aggrecan molecule is happening much more rapidly when horses are fed 4-Plex-C from Zinpro. This is positive for re-establishing functional tissue in the joint following the initiation of inflammation.

4-Plex C from Zinpro Helps Manage Joint Inflammation in Horses

The inclusion of 4-Plex-C in a horse’s diet shows that when inflammation is present in the equine joint, there is a more rapid immune response to the inflammation, a more rapid and robust “clean-up” of the cartilage tissue and a rebuilding of the proteins in the joint cartilage much faster.

This doesn’t mean the inclusion of performance trace minerals in the diet is going to prevent all joint inflammation. It just means that by feeding 4-Plex-C from Zinpro, the horse will have a more robust response to an LPS challenge, resulting in a more resilient animal coming out of the LPS challenge sooner and setting the horse up for success.

Contact your local Zinpro representative to learn how performance trace minerals, such as 4-Plex C or Availa® 4, improve equine nutrition and support greater immune response.