The cresty neck score is an independent predictor of insulin dysregulation in ponies

PLoS One. 2019 Jul 24;14(7):e0220203. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0220203. eCollection 2019.


Generalized obesity, regional adiposity, hyperinsulinemia and hypertriglyceridemia are all potential indicators of equine metabolic syndrome (EMS). This study aimed to assess the relationship between morphometric measurements of body condition and metabolic hormone concentrations in ponies, with and without a neck crest or generalised obesity. Twenty-six ponies were assigned a body condition score (BCS) and cresty neck score (CNS). Height, girth, and neck measurements were taken. An oral glucose test (OGT; 0.75g dextrose/kg BW) was performed and blood samples collected prior to and 2 hours post dosing. Basal blood samples were analysed for blood glucose, serum insulin, triglyceride and leptin, and plasma HMW adiponectin concentrations. Post-prandial samples were analysed for serum insulin concentration. The ponies were grouped as having a) a normal to fleshy body status (BCS ≤7 and CNS ≤2; n = 10); b) having a high CNS, but without generalised obesity (BCS ≤7 and CNS ≥3; n = 11), or c) being obese (BCS ≥8 and CNS ≥1; n = 5). Responses to the OGT indicated that both normal and insulin-dysregulated ponies were included in the cohort. Post-prandial serum insulin was positively associated with CNS (P<0.035) and ponies with a CNS ≥ 3 had 5 times greater odds of being insulin-dysregulated. The high CNS group had a greater insulin response to the OGT than those in the normal/fleshy group (P = 0.006), whereas obese ponies did not differ from the other two groups. Basal HMW adiponectin was negatively correlated with post-prandial insulin concentrations (r = -0.5, P = 0.009), as well as being decreased in the group with a high CNS, compared to the obese group (P = 0.05). Cresty neck score was more predictive of insulin dysregulation than BCS, and this may be relevant to the diagnosis of EMS. Adiponectin may also be a measure of insulin dysregulation that is independent of body condition.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Validation Study

MeSH terms

  • Anatomy, Veterinary / methods
  • Animals
  • Biomarkers / analysis
  • Body Weights and Measures / methods
  • Body Weights and Measures / veterinary*
  • Female
  • Horse Diseases / diagnosis*
  • Horse Diseases / metabolism
  • Horse Diseases / pathology
  • Horses / anatomy & histology
  • Insulin / metabolism
  • Insulin Resistance*
  • Male
  • Metabolic Syndrome / diagnosis*
  • Metabolic Syndrome / metabolism
  • Metabolic Syndrome / pathology
  • Metabolic Syndrome / veterinary
  • Neck / anatomy & histology*
  • Neck / pathology
  • Prognosis
  • Research Design


  • Biomarkers
  • Insulin

Grant support

The study was funded by the Animal Health Foundation, MO, USA, and Queensland University of Technology.