b'For additional news items, see TheHorse.com/Newsamounts of bacteria variedBiomarkers Could Help Diagnose Sarcoidssignificantly depending on location and if they wereSometimes its obvious your horse has a sarcoid, the most common type of equine skin tumor. These bandaged, the team said.noncancerous tumors with a classic nodular or verrucous (cauliflowerlike) appearance are difficult to How that impacts woundmiss. But what about that patch of rough-looking skin or that little warty lump? Is it a sarcoid?healing needs further study,Your veterinarian can run tests, but biopsies (the gold standard for diagnosis) can aggravate tumors but knowing what bacteriaand make them grow (or metastasize, in the case of cancerous tumors), while noninvasive swabbing frequent each site is a usefultechniques dont detect all cases.start, they said.But researchers in Switzerland are working toward Additionally, genetic stud- a new way to confirm sarcoids: Theyve analyzed an ies revealed a number ofinnovative blood test that screens for recently identified unknown bacterial strains.biomarkers of sarcoids. The test looks for microRNAs While this could be a process- (miRNAs)tiny RNAs (molecules that play roles in ing error, its more likely thatgene coding, decoding, regulation, and expression) the researchers stumbledthat circulate freely in the blood without cells. These do across a series of yet undis- not code for anything but seem to target and silence covered strains, Costa said. messenger RNA (which carries codes from the DNA to protein synthesis sites), said Lucia Unger, DrMedVet, We believe these are Dipl. ECEIM, and Vinzenz Gerber, DrMedVet, PhD, Dipl. ALEX BECKSTETT/THE HORSEunknown bacteria because we ACVIM, ECEIM, both of the University of Bern.have used the same methods inResearchers know miRNAs are good biomarkers for many other studies and neverdetecting cancer in humans and other mammals. And had this situation, he said.while sarcoids arent malignant, theyre still invasive So what do these findingstumors with cancerlike qualities, Unger said.mean for horse owners? In their study, she and colleagues ran miRNA whole Researchers are working on a blood test to Based on the study results,make sarcoid diagnosis easier.blood and serum testing on six horses with sarcoids the team concluded that ban- and five without. Sarcoid-affected horses had nine daging significantly impactskinds of miRNA in their serum that were significantly different from those in the serum of horses without skin microbiota of horsessarcoids, she said. Further, when they tested whole blood, they found 19 miRNAs that were expressed during the healing process. differently in horses with sarcoids than in the unaffected group.However, Costa said,Unger said this gives them strong hope that theyve identified a reliable blood biomarker.theres still a long way to goIts too soon, however, to put this test into practice. First, the team must validate their results through before we can make recom- further research. Then they need to make the testing cheaper and easier than the next-generation mendations about whatssequencing used in the study, Unger said.better, but at this stageThe connection between miRNAs and sarcoids isnt completely clear, she said, and researchers dont weve been able to completeknow why the body expresses miRNA differently in the face of sarcoids.a descriptive study, show- For the moment, we can only speculate on the possible biological functions of circulating miRNAs ing whats going on in these(not only in veterinary medicine but also human medicine), she said. This is a very interesting field of wounds during healing. research, and research is ongoing.Christa Lest-Lasserre, MAChrista Lest-Lasserre, MALemon Verbena Extract Could Help Horses Is Your Horse Moving Symmetrically?Stress in horses doesnt just manifest as behavioral issues, depres- Watch His Witherssion, or a decreased appetite. It can also occur at a cellular level, leading to oxidative damage from free radicals (molecules with anSwedish researchers recently tested a new way to evaluate uneven-unpaired electron that makes them quick to react with others, stealingness in horses: watching how the withers move up and down. They electrons and causing irreparable cell wall damage) that can compro- found that at the walk, some horses tend to drop their withers lower mise health and welfare. But researchers learned that a lemon verbenawhen bringing one foreleg forward than they do with the other. It ap-extract supplement could help reduce cellular stress when they testedpears that drop has more to do with natural laterality than pathological it in yearlings. Francesco Vizzarri, PhD, of the University of Bari, in Italy,(disease- or injury-related) asymmetry. To be able to better diagnose said Lippia citriodora extract supplementation improved horses bloodlaterality is likely of benefit both for the trainer that tries to increase lipid and oxidative plasma profiles, said Vizzarri. This suggests improvedsymmetry while training the horse, as well as for the clinician trying to liver function. Further, plasma analyses revealed a marked increase indetermine if a slight asymmetry is lameness or only laterality, said circulating vitamin E and A. These vitamins can also help control freeAgneta Egenvall, DVM, PhD, of the Swedish University of Agricultural radicals. Sciences, in Uppsala. TheHorse.com | The HorseAugust 20199'