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New Test Distinguishes Equine Neurological Disease from LamenessBy Kentucky Equine Research Staff · August 16, 2017

Distinguishing equine neurological disease from lameness can be extremely challenging in some cases. That said, a correct diagnosis achieved early in the course of disease maximizes a horse’s chance of recovery, regardless of the underlying cause. Considering that many diagnostic tools used to identify a neurological condition in horses are either invasive (e.g., obtaining a sample cerebrospinal fluid, CSF) or costly (e.g., magnetic resonance imaging), one group of researchers* found a better option: phosphorylated neurofilament H.

“Phosphorylated neurofilament H (pNF-H) is a molecule referred to as a neurofilament. These proteins are released into the CSF, the fluid that bathes the brain and spinal cord, when damage to those structures occurs. When pNF-H levels rise in the CSF, they spill over into the bloodstream and can be measured using a simple, noninvasive blood test,” explained Catherine Whitehouse, M.S., a Kentucky Equine Research (KER) consultant.

This, or similar, tests are anticipated to benefit horses with equine protozoal encephalomyelitis (EPM), neuroaxonal dystrophy (NAD) or equine degenerative myeloencephalopathy (EDM), and equine motor neuron disease (EMND). Further, lame horses with subtle disease also benefit by ruling out a neurological disease, thereby expediting the application of advanced diagnostic lameness techniques.

“To help protect a horse’s musculoskeletal system from lameness, owners are encouraged to offer their horses oral joint health supplements. Products containing glucosamine, chondroitin sulfate, omega-3 fatty acids, and hyaluronic acid help protect joints from injury and, if already injured, minimize the impact of the trauma,” Whitehouse noted.

Look for these KER-formulated products to help protect your horse’s musculoskeletal health:

  • KER•Flex, with chondroitin sulfate and glucosamine hydrochloride;
  • Synovate HA with high-molecular weight hyaluronic acid, and;
  • EO•3, a marine-derived source of the omega-3 fatty acids DHA and EPA.

Australian horse owners should look for Glucos-A-Flex.

Be certain to choose nutritional supplements wisely. KER is certified by FAMI-QS, an international quality and safety certification system for the animal feed industry, as well as other governing agencies.

*Intan-Shameha, A.R., T.J. Divers, J.K. Morrow, et al. Phosphorylated neurofilament H (pNF-H) as a potential diagnostic marker for neurological disorders in horses. Research in Veterinary Science. In press.