Is Septic Arthritis Behind Some Equine Osteochondrosis Lesions?

Researchers suspected that in some cases of septic arthritis bacteria might damage cartilage canals and interrupt blood supply. And in that situation, genetics—osteochondrosis’ most common cause—would have nothing to do with the resulting lesions.
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equine osteochondrosis
Researchers suspected that in some cases of septic arthritis bacteria might damage cartilage canals and interrupt blood supply. And in that situation, genetics—osteochondrosis' most common cause—would have nothing to do with the resulting lesions. | Photo: The Horse Staff

It makes sense to take all possible steps to reduce the risk of horses developing heritable and potentially performance-limiting diseases, like the developmental orthopedic disease osteochondrosis. But new study results suggest that a few osteochondrosis cases might be due to joint infections and, therefore, essentially out of our control.

If scientists can identify those particular cases of osteochondrosis, the affected horses could probably continue in the breeding programs without passing on “osteochondrosis genes,” the researchers said.

“It’s likely that several mechanisms may instigate the process (of osteochondrosis development), with sepsis and bacterial infection of cartilage canals being one of them,” said Bjørn Wormstrand, PhD candidate, of the Norwegian University of Life Sciences Faculty of Veterinary Medicine at the, in Oslo

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Passionate about horses and science from the time she was riding her first Shetland Pony in Texas, Christa Lesté-Lasserre writes about scientific research that contributes to a better understanding of all equids. After undergrad studies in science, journalism, and literature, she received a master’s degree in creative writing. Now based in France, she aims to present the most fascinating aspect of equine science: the story it creates. Follow Lesté-Lasserre on Twitter @christalestelas.

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