Laminitis: New Study on Sugar and Starch as a Cause

A breakthrough in laminitis research by a team of scientists at University of Queensland, Australia, and colleagues, was published in August 2007 The Veterinary Journal. The study explains an important link in sugar and starches as

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A breakthrough in laminitis research by a team of scientists at University of Queensland, Australia, and colleagues, was published in August 2007 The Veterinary Journal. The study explains an important link in sugar and starches as causes for laminitis.


Laminitis was induced in healthy, lean, young ponies by prolonged (up to 72 hours) administration of insulin via euglycemic clamp. This procedure maintains blood glucose at a set level, eliminating involvement of glucose toxicity. Prior to the study, all ponies’ insulin levels were in normal range. In addition to clinical observation of lameness, examination of hoof tissues after euthanasia confirmed laminitis in all four feet. There was no evidence of gastrointestinal involvement.







This is the author’s 11-year-old mixed breed pony mare taken the day of her last insulin test, after grazing for only two hours. Her insulin tested 3.5 times normal. One month earlier on a diet of only low sugar hay, her insulin was within normal levels. She has had laminitis several times in the past, although she was sound throughout this period. Note she is not overweight

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Written by:

Kathryn Watts, BS, is the director of research for Rocky Mountain Research and Consulting and a passionate forage researcher. Her web site is www.safergrass.org.

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