Equine endotoxaemia--a state-of-the-art review of therapy

Aust Vet J. Jan-Feb 2005;83(1-2):45-50. doi: 10.1111/j.1751-0813.2005.tb12191.x.


The pathophysiology of endotoxaemia, a leading cause of death in the horse, is beginning to be understood in greater detail. Endotoxin may be absorbed into the systemic circulation in a number of different ways: most commonly the body's normal defense mechanisms are disrupted or bypassed, or the normal clearance mechanisms overwhelmed. Following this wide-spread effects are observed, although the most significant are seen in the cardiovascular system. Fever, arterial hypoxaemia and signs of abdominal pain are also common. With increased understanding of the disease new therapeutic agents have become available, however, while the newer agents offer some advantages it is important to recognise that supportive care is the mainstay of treatment for endotoxaemia. Supportive care consists of aggressive fluid therapy (crystalloid, colloid and hypertonic), the administration of non-steroidal antiinflammatory drugs and, where appropriate, antimicrobials. The principles of supportive care are discussed in detail. Other therapies such as hyperimmune plasma, polymyxin B, pentoxifylline, dimethyl sulfoxide and heparin are commonly used in the treatment of equine endotoxaemia and their use is reviewed here. Furthermore, newer agents such as anti-tumour necrosis factor antibodies, detergent, activated protein C and insulin, which have yet to gain widespread acceptance but may have an important role in the treatment of endotoxaemia in the future, are examined.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / therapeutic use
  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents, Non-Steroidal / therapeutic use
  • Dimethyl Sulfoxide / therapeutic use
  • Endotoxemia / drug therapy
  • Endotoxemia / veterinary*
  • Gastrointestinal Agents / therapeutic use
  • Horse Diseases / drug therapy*
  • Horse Diseases / physiopathology
  • Horses
  • Infusions, Intravenous / veterinary
  • Rehydration Solutions / therapeutic use


  • Anti-Bacterial Agents
  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents, Non-Steroidal
  • Gastrointestinal Agents
  • Rehydration Solutions
  • Dimethyl Sulfoxide