In the equine carbohydrate overload model of acute laminitis, disease progression is associated with changes in bacteria found in the cecum. To date, research has focused on changes in specific Gram-positive bacteria in this portion of the intestinal tract. Metagenomic methods are now available making it possible to interrogate microbial communities using animal protocols that sufficiently power a study. In this study, the microbiota in cecal fluid collected from control, non-laminitic horses (n=8) and from horses with early-stage acute laminitis induced with either oligofructan (n=6) or cornstarch (n=6) were profiled. The microbiota were identified based on sequencing the V4 hypervariable region of the 16S rRNA gene. The results of the study show that the relative abundance of Lactobacillus sp. and Streptococcus sp. increased significantly (p<0.05) following OF and CS infusion. Other significant changes included an increase (p<0.05) in relative abundance of Veillonella sp. and Serratia sp., two potentially pathogenic, Gram-negative bacteria. Significant decreases in the relative abundance of presumptive normal flora were detected as well. Although changes in cecal microbiota described in this communication are from a pilot study, it is hypothesized that an overgrowth of pathogenic Gram-negative bacteria develops and contributes to enterocolitis, pyrexia and lameness in the carbohydrate overload model of acute laminitis.
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