UK Researchers Study MicroRNAs Throughout Gestation in Mares

MicroRNA, a small nonprotein coding gene, holds potential as a novel way to diagnose various diseases in the horse.
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UK Researchers Study MicroRNAs Throughout Gestation in Mares
Shavahn Loux, a postdoctoral scholar at the University of Kentucky (UK) Gluck Equine Research Center, is studying microRNAs (or miRNAs), a small nonprotein coding gene in animals, in pregnant mares. | Photo: iStock
Shavahn Loux, a postdoctoral scholar at the University of Kentucky (UK) Gluck Equine Research Center, is studying microRNAs (or miRNAs), a small nonprotein coding gene in animals, in pregnant mares.

She said the research into miRNAs began due to their potential to act as biomarkers (a measurable indicator of a biological state or condition). The body expresses them in response to disease, and they act as a measurable substance as concentrations change.

“If we could easily assess different aspects of placental health in the mare with a simple blood test, that would have phenomenal implications for the equine breeding industry,” Loux said.

The research is still in preliminary stages, with work being done to characterize miRNA expression throughout gestation in the mare in order to provide a baseline for further research. Essentially, current research is establishing “normal” miRNA concentrations in the pregnant mare before looking for abnormalities. However, through this initial research, Loux and colleagues have identified several miRNAs for future further research

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