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Vitamin E Indicated for Horses Having Colic SurgeryBy Dr. Peter Huntington · November 16, 2011

Equine Veterinary Journal recently published a special supplement that presented a collection of research on colic. One of the papers provided a clear indication for high doses of antioxidants, including natural vitamin E, to be part of the treatment regimen for horses having colic surgery.

Studies from Kentucky Equine research (KER) have shown that after a 5,000 IU dose of KERx Nano-E, blood levels of vitamin E rise rapidly and are 75% higher than baseline at six hours after treatment. This makes Nano-E suitable for supplying additional vitamin E and boosting antioxidant delivery at times of acute oxidative stress such as surgical colic.

A group of compounds called isoprostanes have prostaglandin-like activity and are produced by free-radical-induced peroxidation of arachadonic acid. They are sensitive markers of oxidative stress and ischaemia, but they also induce continuing vasoconstriction and inflammation leading to increased ischaemia.

Studies in rats have shown that intestinal stasis increases isoprostane levels, but antioxidant therapy including vitamin E changed the clinical course. This reduced the isoprostane levels as well as the inflammatory and ischaemic events associated with the intestinal stasis.

Recent collaborative research has shown that horses with surgical colic had higher isoprostane metabolite levels than groups of horses with medical colic or unaffected control horses.

As isoprostanes may exacerbate the oxidative stress in a compromised gut, antioxidant and cell protectant therapy should be used as adjunct therapy in surgical colic cases. Vitamin C, DMSO, and lignocaine are indicated in addition to high doses of Nano-E.

Other situations where oxidative stress plays a big role in the disease course are also candidates for Nano-E therapy. They include equine metabolic syndrome, recurrent airway obstruction, and Cushing’s disease.

Information in this article was based on a paper published in Equine Veterinary Journal (2011) 43, s39:34-41.