It’s All Connected: Bodywide Inflammation in Horses
Here’s what researchers are learning about bodywide inflammation’s effect on horses
When you hear the term inflammation, you might picture a localized swollen area on a limb or around a wound. But inflammation also occurs systemically, affecting the whole body. It has been a buzzword in the medical community for years in discussions on how to manage chronic diseases in humans. Equine researchers have begun studying the concept of whole-body inflammation because of its links to a variety of health problems, including equine metabolic syndrome, insulin resistance, and laminitis; “leaky gut syndrome”; and risk of musculoskeletal injury.
How does bodywide inflammation even occur? Well, if the body’s normal protective responses become amplified, what started as a defense mechanism can turn into a chronic problem. The immune system normally secretes pro-inflammatory cytokines, which are chemical messenger proteins such as interleukins (IL) and tumor necrosis factor (TNFα). These substances are important for initiating a physiological response to infections or injury and seeing to a successful recovery.
While inflammation might start in one tissue, excessive inflammation releases substances into the circulation that act systemically on other tissues throughout the body. Let’s look at some of the negative effects this process can
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