A novel model to assess lamellar signaling relevant to preferential weight bearing in the horse

Vet J. 2017 Mar:221:62-67. doi: 10.1016/j.tvjl.2017.02.005. Epub 2017 Feb 14.


Supporting limb laminitis (SLL) is a devastating sequela to severe unilateral lameness in equine patients. The manifestation of SLL, which usually only affects one limb, is unpredictable and the etiology is unknown. A novel, non-painful preferential weight bearing model designed to mimic the effects of severe unilateral forelimb lameness was developed to assess lamellar signaling events in the supporting limb (SL). A custom v-shaped insert was attached to the shoe of one forelimb to prevent normal weight bearing and redistribute weight onto the SL. Testing of the insert using a custom scale platform built into the floor of stocks confirmed increased distribution of weight on the SL compared with the unloaded forelimb (UL) and the contralateral (CH) and ipsilateral (IH) hind limbs in six Standardbred horses. In a second part of the study, eight healthy Standardbred horses were fitted with the insert and tied with consistent monitoring and free access to hay and water for 48 h, after which the lamellae were harvested. Real-time qPCR was performed to assess lamellar mRNA concentrations of inflammatory genes and immunoblotting and immunofluorescence were performed to assess lamellar protein concentration and cellular localization of hypoxia-related proteins, respectively. Lamellar mRNA concentrations of inflammatory signaling proteins did not differ between SL and either CH or IH samples. HIF-1α concentrations were greater (P < 0.05) in the SL compared to the CH. This work establishes an experimental model to study preferential weight bearing and initial results suggest that lamellar hypoxia may occur in the SL.

Keywords: Cell signaling; HIF-1α; Hypoxia; Preferential weight bearing; Supporting limb laminitis.

MeSH terms

  • Actins / metabolism
  • Animals
  • Fluorescent Antibody Technique / veterinary
  • Foot Diseases / diagnosis
  • Foot Diseases / physiopathology
  • Foot Diseases / veterinary
  • Glyceraldehyde-3-Phosphate Dehydrogenases / metabolism
  • Hoof and Claw / physiopathology
  • Horse Diseases / diagnosis*
  • Horse Diseases / physiopathology
  • Horses
  • Immunoblotting / veterinary
  • Male
  • Models, Biological
  • Real-Time Polymerase Chain Reaction / veterinary
  • Signal Transduction / physiology
  • Weight-Bearing / physiology*
  • beta 2-Microglobulin / metabolism


  • Actins
  • beta 2-Microglobulin
  • Glyceraldehyde-3-Phosphate Dehydrogenases