‘Inflamm-Aging,’ Satellite Cells, and the Equine Athlete

Researchers are looking for ways to help aging equine athletes through so-called “satellite cells.”
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It used to be that an “old” horse was one in his teens whose usefulness as an athlete was fairly limited. Now, horses are living longer, and many continue to compete well into their 20s. Recognizing the growing population of aging athletes, researchers are looking for ways to help this group of horses in their endeavors through so-called “satellite cells.”

“Body type changes are associated with aging and are frequently independent of activity level," said Sarah Reed, PhD, of the University of Connecticut Department of Animal Science. "Those changes include decreased muscle mass and strength and altered aerobic capacity, each of which can impair athletic ability and potentially contribute to injury.”

Reed and colleagues speculate that, based on research in humans and rodents, there is also a “decreased ability for the muscle to regenerate in aged horses.”

One way to potentially help the older athlete is to exploit the satellite cells—muscle stem cells that contribute to building new muscle and maintaining existing muscle

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Written by:

Stacey Oke, MSc, DVM, is a practicing veterinarian and freelance medical writer and editor. She is interested in both large and small animals, as well as complementary and alternative medicine. Since 2005, she’s worked as a research consultant for nutritional supplement companies, assisted physicians and veterinarians in publishing research articles and textbooks, and written for a number of educational magazines and websites.

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