Getting a subfertile mare in foal usually often necessitates repeated veterinary examinations and treatments, such as medications and uterine flushes. Still, success is not always guaranteed. Researchers recently revealed that stem cells and other biologic therapies might also be useful in the quest to promote “sub” mares to fully fertile.

Ryan Ferris, DVM, MS, Dipl. ACT, of Colorado State University’s Equine Reproduction Laboratory, described how these biologic therapies—generally used for a variety of musculoskeletal injuries or soft tissue injuries–could have reproductive applications, at the 2012 American Association of Equine Practitioners’ (AAEP) Convention, held Dec. 1-5 in Anaheim, Calif.

“All mares have a transient inflammatory response in the uterus to spermatozoa following mating or insemination,” explained Ferris. “This results in white blood cells and fluid accumulating in the uterine lumen. Uterine contractions result in this fluid being cleared from the uterus within 24 hours post-breeding, but approximately 20% of mares of mares are unable to clear this inflammatory response to spermatozoa by 24-48 hours post-mating.”

Traditional treatments for post-mating inflammation include systemic glucocorticoid steroids, which can in some cases cause laminitis, prevent ovulation, and suppress the immune system.

“Additional treatments such as uterine lavage or (systemic) ecbolics (agents that increase uterine contractions) are typically only used after the inflammatory response has occurred,” said Ferris.

Alternate therapies that are relatively noninvasive