Putting Horses Down: Researching Protein & Identifying RNA Markers to Prevent More Catastrophic Racehorse Injuries

Catastrophic injuries of racehorses is a top-of-mind concern for the racing industry.
Sentiment & intent is shared by researchers at the University of Kentucky & UK.
Vets & Kentucky Commission working on the changes that are happening at a cellular level.
Research might indicate an injury is present before it becomes career or life ending.
Researchers analyzed blood samples from more than 1,000 racehorses.
The samples are being & were collected by participating racing jurisdictions. 

Now possible to identify early marker or signal for horses at risk of catastrophic injury.
This type of detection system could be implemented cost effectively on a large scale.
Projects funded by KY Horse Racing Commission’s Equine Drug Research Council.
Part of their interest in supporting & funding this innovative idea.
Geared towards improving the safety & well being of horses and riders.

Many of these injuries have underlying damage to these race horses.
Likely that there are molecular markers that can be detected prior to an injury.
There are identifications of protein biomarkers for these types of injuries.
Objective was to determine if horses that had suffered a catastrophic injury during racing.
And would this show increased inflammatory mRNA expression at the time of their injury. (Compared to uninjured horses)
Looking at inflammation often involves measuring proteins.
Researchers opted to focus on mRNA due to the limited availability of reagents .
Enabled measurement of horse proteins & concerns about this limited project.
Measuring messenger mRNA had not yet been explored before.
There are four mRNA markers, out of the 23 measured with qPCR.
Did show significant promise as markers for identifying horses at risk of injury.
The results of this study suggest that analysis of messenger RNA expression could be an economical, effective and non-invasive way.
Could identify individual racehorses at risk for catastrophic injury.

“We are definitely encouraged by our findings,”;  “The ultimate hope is, of course, to develop a screening tool that can be used pre-race to identify horses at increased risk for injury.”
— per Allen Page, DVM, PhD, staff scientist and veterinarian at UK’s Gluck Equine Research Center,

Horses eligible for inclusion in this study were Thoroughbreds entered into any race in one of five participating jurisdictions from September 2017 to June 2020

The Study was presented at the American Association of Equine Practitioners’ annual meeting.
More information about the study’s findings will be shared this fall.

Promising developments in quest to prevent catastrophic racehorse” injuries” –  https://www.paulickreport.com/horse-care-category/promising-developments-in-quest-to-prevent-catastrophic-racehorse-injuries/

 Paulick Report July 19,2020- https://www.paulickreport.com/horse-care-category/promising-developments-in-quest-to-prevent-catastrophic-racehorse-injuries/

See Leadership of David Horohov,  PhD, chair of the Department of Veterinary Science. 859-257-2226;  equine@uky.edu

Leave a Reply