Weight loss is linearly associated with a reduction of the insulin response to an oral glucose test in Icelandic horses
BACKGROUND:Insulin dysregulation (ID) goes along with lasting or transient hyperinsulinemia able to trigger equine laminitis, a painful and crippling foot condition. Promoting weight loss through dietary changes and physical activity is currently the main option to prevent this disease. This study aimed at describing the relationship between weight variations and the level of ID as determined by oral glucose tests (OGT). Therefore, the insulin response of 19 Icelandic horses to repeated OGTs was retrospectively analysed considering the variations in their body weight. RESULTS:There was a strong linear relationship between variations in body weight and variations in the total insulin response to OGT as approximated by the area under the curve of insulin (p < 0.001). As indicated by a weighted least squares model, the insulin response decreased by 22% for 5% weight loss on average. However some horses did not respond to weight loss with a reduction of their insulin response to OGT. Additionally, a high correlation between 120 min serum insulin concentration and total insulin response was observed (r = 0.96, p < 0.001). CONCLUSIONS:The results corroborate that weight loss is effective against ID and allow for a better quantification of the expected improvement of the insulin response after weight loss. However, it is unclear why some horses did not respond as expected. The high correlation between the 120 min insulin concentration and total insulin response suggests that insulin status can be accurately determined and monitored with only few samples in a practical setting.