Effect of omeprazole and sucralfate on gastrointestinal injury in a fasting/NSAID model

Equine Vet J. 2021 Oct 31. doi: 10.1111/evj.13534. Online ahead of print.


Background: Equine gastric ulcer syndrome (EGUS) is a common and significant cause of morbidity in horses, with a range of clinical signs, including inappetence, colic and poor performance. Hospitalised horses are exposed to factors that may induce EGUS, including fasting and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) administration, and may be at risk for development of squamous (ESGD) and glandular gastric disease (EGGD). Prophylactic anti-ulcer medication is often prescribed for these patients, but drug selection is complicated by different aetiology and response to treatment of ESGD and EGGD.

Objectives: To establish the efficacy of sucralfate or omeprazole used prophylactically in horses exposed to a combined feed-fast and NSAID administration EGUS induction protocol. We hypothesised that these drugs would be equally effective for prevention of gastric lesions in the experimental cohort.

Study design: Randomised crossover experimental design.

Methods: Horses (n = 14) received either omeprazole (1 mg/kg PO q24h) or sucralfate (20 mg/kg PO q8h) while undergoing the feed-fast/NSAID protocol, allowed an 8-week washout period, and then administered the alternate treatment. Serial gastroscopy, ultrasound and haematology documented treatment effects.

Results: ESGD and EGGD score increased over time under both treatments. There was a significant effect of treatment on EGGD scores (P < .001), with post-treatment EGGD scores higher for horses receiving sucralfate (median 3; IQR 2.25,3) than omeprazole (1; 1,1). The effect of treatment on ESGD scores just achieved significance (P = .05), with post-treatment ESGD scores higher for sucralfate (4; 3,4) than omeprazole (2; 2,3).

Main limitations: This study was performed in healthy horses, and response to treatment may differ in horses with clinical illness. Additional investigation in a larger population may be required to detect significant differences in other clinical parameters.

Conclusions: Omeprazole was superior to sucralfate for mitigating gastric lesion severity in healthy horses exposed to a feed-fast/NSAID model.

Keywords: equine gastric ulcer syndrome (EGUS); equine glandular gastric disease (EGGD); equine squamous gastric disease (ESGD); gastroprotectant; horse; nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID); proton pump inhibitor (PPI).