Every few years a new buzzword begins circulating in the horse health industry. And recently, a biomarker called SAA has become such a word, garnering attention from the equine veterinary community for its ability to indicate inflammation. So just what is SAA and why are so many veterinarians and researchers starting to analyze it?
TheHorse.com caught up with two veterinarians well-versed on the topic—Luis Castro, DVM, a racehorse practitioner with Teigland, Franklin & Brokken in Boynton Beach, Florida, Saratoga Springs, New York; and David Levine, DVM, Dipl. ACVS, staff surgeon at New Bolton Center, the large-animal hospital of the University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine, in Kennett Square, Pennsylvania—to find out more about this important biomarker.
TheHorse.com: First, the burning question: What is SAA?
Dr. Luis Castro: Serum amyloid A. It's a biomarker protein produced in the liver in the face of inflammation caused by infection.
Dr. David Levine: SAA has several roles in inflammatory processes, but most importantly for us it serves as a marker for inflammation that increases and decreases quickly so it can give us real-time information using a blood test.
TH.com: Is SAA found in healthy horses' blood?
Levine: SAA is found in very low quantities in normal horses. It is not secreted until inflammation occurs.
TH.com: When does the horse's body produce excess SAA, and what would elevated SAA levels indicate to a veterinarian?
Castro: In the face of i