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Newly Identified Contributors to Equine AsthmaBy Kentucky Equine Research Staff · September 25, 2017

White blood cells (WBCs) play an integral role in fighting infections caused by bacteria, viruses, and other pathogenic (disease-causing) organisms. Neutrophils, a particular type of WBC, are among the first cells to arrive at an infection site. Until recently, immunologists believed that neutrophils were a single, specialized type of WBC, but recent research has revealed that there are different types of neutrophils, one type being low-density neutrophils or LDNs.

“The role of LDNs in health and disease remains unclear, though some studies suggest they have pro-inflammatory properties and potentially contribute or exacerbate chronic medical conditions such as autoimmune disorders, cancer, and asthma,” explained Kathleen Crandell, Ph.D., an equine nutritionist for Kentucky Equine Research (KER).

That said, other studies have identified LDNs in normal, healthy individuals.

To better characterize LDNs and determine exactly what these neutrophils do, researchers from the Université de Montréal* collected WBCs from both healthy and asthmatic horses.

The researchers found that LDNs were similar in both groups of horses. While much research still needs to be conducted to determine the roles of these cells in health and disease, the researchers attest that “the present study provides new insights into several aspects of LDNs during asthmatic inflammation, but also importantly, in health.”

While that research is ongoing, horse owners seeking to maximize their asthmatic horse’s health and quality of life should turn to omega-3 fatty acids such as EO•3.

According to Crandell, “EO•3 is a palatable, marine-derived oil rich in omega-3 fatty acids, including DHA and EPA, recommended by the American College of Veterinary Internal Medicine** for the management of equine asthma.”

*Herteman, N., A. Vargas, J.P. Lavoie. 2017. Characterization of circulating low-density neutrophils intrinsic properties in healthy and asthmatic horses. Scientific Reports. 7(1):7743.

**Couëtil, L.L., J.M. Cardwell, V. Gerber, et al. 2016. Inflammatory airway disease of horses—Revised  consensus statement. Journal of Veterinary Internal Medicine. 30(2):503-515.