Morphometric, metabolic, and inflammatory markers across a cohort of client-owned horses and ponies on the insulin dysregulation spectrum

J Equine Vet Sci. 2021 Oct;105:103715. doi: 10.1016/j.jevs.2021.103715. Epub 2021 Jul 16.


In human metabolic syndrome and type II diabetes, methylglyoxal (MG), D-lactate, and several cytokines have been recognized as biomarkers of important metabolic and inflammatory processes. Equine metabolic syndrome (EMS) shares many similarities with these human counterparts. The objectives of this cross-sectional study were to compare body condition score (BCS), cresty neck score (CNS), resting insulin, MG, D-lactate, L-lactate, tumor necrosis factor-α (TNF-α), interleukin-6 (IL-6), and monocyte chemoattractant protein-1 (MCP-1) between horses with and without insulin dysregulation, as classified via combined glucose and insulin test (CGIT). 32 client-owned horses were included. History and morphometric data such as BCS and CNS were recorded. Subjects with abnormalities on physical examination or CBC, elevated ACTH or incomplete information were excluded. Baseline serum or plasma concentrations of biomarkers were tested via commercial ELISA or colorimetric assays. Characteristics of insulin dysregulated and insulin sensitive horses were compared by univariate analysis and forward logistic regression. 12 (38%) of the 32 horses were classified as insulin dysregulated. No significant difference between the 2 groups was found for age, BCS, baseline glucose, triglycerides, MG, D-lactate, L-lactate, TNF-α, IL-6, and MCP-1. Baseline insulin was significantly associated with insulin dysregulation in univariate analysis (P = 0.02), but not in the final model. Horses with CNS ≥ 3 had 11.3 times higher odds of having insulin dysregulation (OR 11.3, 95% C.I. 2.04 - 63.08, P = 0.006). In this population, horses with mild-moderate signs of EMS presented similar metabolic and inflammatory profiles to non-insulin dysregulated controls.

Keywords: Cresty neck; D-lactate; Laminitis; Metabolic syndrome; Metaflammation; Methylglyoxal.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Biomarkers
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2* / veterinary
  • Horse Diseases* / diagnosis
  • Horses
  • Insulin


  • Biomarkers
  • Insulin