Stiftung Tierärztliche Hochschule Hannover (TiHo)TiHo eLib

Metabolic impact of weight variations in Icelandic horses


Insulin dysregulation (ID) is an equine endocrine disorder, which is often accompanied by obesity and various metabolic perturbations. The relationship between weight variations and fluctuations of the insulin response to oral glucose tests (OGT) as well as the metabolic impact of ID have been described previously. The present study seeks to characterize the concomitant metabolic impact of variations in the insulin response and bodyweight during repeated OGTs using a metabolomics approach.


Nineteen Icelandic horses were subjected to five OGTs over one year and their bodyweight, insulin and metabolic response were monitored. Analysis of metabolite concentrations depending on time (during the OGT), relative bodyweight (rWeight; defined as the bodyweight at one OGT divided by the mean bodyweight across all OGTs) and relative insulin response (rAUCins; defined accordingly from the area under the insulin curve during OGT) was performed using linear models. Additionally, the pathways significantly associated with time, rWeight and rAUCins were identified by rotation set testing.


The results suggested that weight gain and worsening of ID activate distinct metabolic pathways. The metabolic profile associated with weight gain indicated an increased activation of arginase, while the pathways associated with time and rAUCins were consistent with the expected effect of glucose and insulin, respectively. Overall, more metabolites were significantly associated with rWeight than with rAUCins.


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