Objective: To evaluate the use of a combination of avocado and soybean unsaponifiable (ASU) extracts for the treatment of experimentally induced osteoarthritis in horses.
Animals: 16 horses.
Procedures: Osteoarthritis was induced via osteochondral fragmentation in 1 middle carpal joint of each horse; the other joint underwent a sham operation. Horses were randomly allocated to receive oral treatment with ASU extracts (1:2 [avocado-to-soybean] ratio mixed in 6 mL of molasses; n = 8) or molasses (6 mL) alone (placebo treatment; 8) once daily from days 0 to 70. Lameness, response to joint flexion, synovial effusion, gross and histologic joint assessments, and serum and synovial fluid biochemical data were compared between treatment groups to identify effects of treatment.
Results: Osteochondral fragmentation induced significant increases in various variables indicative of joint pain and disease. Treatment with ASU extracts did not have an effect on signs of pain or lameness; however, there was a significant reduction in severity of articular cartilage erosion and synovial hemorrhage (assessed grossly) and significant increase in articular cartilage glycosaminoglycan synthesis, compared with placebo-treated horses.
Conclusions and clinical relevance: Although treatment with ASU extracts did not decrease clinical signs of pain in horses with experimentally induced osteoarthritis, there did appear to be a disease-modifying effect of treatment, compared with findings in placebo-treated horses. These objective data support the use of ASU extracts as a disease-modifying treatment for management of osteoarthritis in horses.