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Regenerative Therapies for Laminitic HorsesBy Kentucky Equine Research Staff · November 6, 2017

Laminitis can strike at any time, contributing to pain, loss of function, poor quality of life, and economic losses associated with treatment. Medical therapies can help some affected horses, yet many cases remain unresponsive to treatment.

Given the impact of laminitis on the equine industry, owners and veterinarians are often willing to try novel treatments, including administration of stem cells and platelet-rich plasma (PRP).

"These regenerative therapies have traditionally been used for treating tendon injuries, wounds, and even joint disease. More recently, however, veterinarians have been exploring the use of these treatment modalities in laminitic horses with reported success," explained Kathleen Crandell, Ph.D., a nutritionist for Kentucky Equine Research (KER).

While horse owners are fortunate to have these treatment options available, there is little science supporting the use of stem cells or PRP for laminitis in horses. To determine if these therapies benefit affected animals, a group of Italian scientists used a combination of adipose-derived stem cells and PRP on nine horses with chronic laminitis*. All horses had naturally occurring laminitis and were previously treated unsuccessfully with conventional therapies.

The horses were administered the stem-cell/PRP slurry intravenously in a digital vein. Injection was repeated once monthly for three consecutive months. The researchers found neither short- nor long-term adverse reactions following injection and, importantly, all horses showed improvement in blood flow, structure, and function of the hoof. All nine horses reportedly returned to a comfortable quality of life.

Other ways to maintain healthy hooves in horses to avoid life-threatening bouts of laminitis include routine farrier, avoidance of sudden access to lush pastures or high-grain feeds, and maintenance of optimal body condition scores to minimize the development of insulin resistance and metabolic syndrome.

“In addition, a quality nutritional supplement designed to support hoof health and help with the healing process can be fed to horses with laminitis,” shared Crandell. “KER offers Bio•Bloom PS, a product that contains biotin, methionine, iodine, chelated zinc, lecithin, and essential fatty acids to promote healthy hoof growth and resilient hoof horn.”

Australian horse owners should look for BioBloom.

*Angelone, M., V. Conti, C. Biacca, et al. 2017. The contribution of adipose tissue-derived mesenchymal stem cells and platelet-rich plasma to the treatment of chronic equine laminitis: a proof of concept. International Journal of Molecular Science. 18(10). pii: E2122.