Celiac.com 05/11/2012 - Horses are susceptible to inflammatory small bowel disease, and the condition effects horses in much the same way as it effects humans.
A research team recently conducted a study to examine the possibility that gluten may play a role in equine ISBD.
The researchers were J.H. van der Kolk, L.A. van Putten, C.J. Mulder, G.C. Grinwis, M. Reijm, C.M. Butler, B.M. von Blomberg of the Department of Equine Sciences, Medicine Section, Faculty of Veterinary Medicine at the University of Utrecht, in Utrecht, in the Netherlands.
For their study, the team assessed antibodies that are known to be important in the diagnosis of human celiac disease: IgA antibodies to human recombinant and guinea pig tissue-transglutaminase (TGA), native gliadin (AGA), deamidated-gliadin-peptides (DGPA), and primate and equine endomysium (EMA).
The team measured these antibodies using blood samples from three different groups of horses: Twelve ISBD affected horses on a gluten-rich diet, along with two control groups.
The first control group included 22 horses on a gluten-rich diet, and the second included 25 horses on a gluten-poor diet.
The researchers measured differences (p < 0.05) in the groups using the Wilcoxon test.
They found that both ISBD-affected horses and gluten-rich control group had significantly (p < 0.0004) higher hrTGA titers than gluten-poor control group.
However, ISBD horses did not show significantly higher levels of any of the celiac disease related antibodies when compared to gluten-rich controls.
Still, They found significantly higher antibody levels (TGA, EMA and DGPA) in one of the ISBD horses.
They put that horse, 14-year-old stallion, on a gluten-free ration for 6 months. They then reassessed his antibodies and found a significant reduction of antibody levels, along with clinical recovery associated with improved duodenal histopathology.
The researchers write that this is the first such study assessing gluten-related antibodies in horses and that the results suggest a potential pathogenic role of gluten in at least some cases of equine ISBD.
These clinical results suggest that further study into the immunologic basis of possible gluten-sensitive enteropathy in horses might have important implications for the human manifestation of the disease.