Performance horses experience high levels of physiologic stress. Training, trailering, competing, and new environments all take their toll.

Physiologic stress can cause a cascade of ill effects, most commonly in the form of gastrointestinal (GI) ulcers, sore joints, and respiratory issues—leaving owners, riders, and trainers searching for options that will help keep their horses healthy.

Researchers at Iowa State and Texas A&M universities recently have evaluated serum-based bioactive proteins (SBPs, more on what they are in a moment) and their potential to fight numerous stress-induced problems in performance horses. Thus far, the researchers say the results of this nondrug approach have been promising.

What are SBPs?

Blood carries a variety of functional proteins throughout the body, which are recruited to specific locations based upon immune signals. Proteins such as immunoglobulins, interleukins, and growth factors (e.g., transforming growth factor β1, insulinlike growth factor, and platelet-derived growth factor) are in circulation at any given time.

Serum-based bioactive proteins are rich in these naturally occurring proteins that have evolved to work together. In fact, the most distinguishing characteristics of SBPs are their natural complexity and ability to act in concert with one another. Researchers say this natural complexity also allows SBPs to support optimal function across different equine body systems.

Equine Clinical Research into SBPs

Scott McClure, DVM, PhD, Dipl. ACVS, ACVSMR, associate professor of veterinary clinical sciences at Iowa State University, has studied SBPs and