The objective of this study was to clarify the current status of endangered Kiso horse, population statistics and biological traits, in order to take a step for the conservation by scientific approach. We surveyed 125 Kiso horses (86.2% of the whole breed), analyzed the construction of the population, and calculated the coefficient of inbreeding and effective population size. Moreover, we confirmed coat color variations and the traditional traits of the Kiso horse, and measured their height at the withers and chest circumference to clarify their physical characteristics. The population pyramid of the horses was stationary or contractive, suggesting a reduction of the population in the near future. The effective population size of the horse (47.9) suggested that the diversity was much less than their census size, and the high coefficient of inbreeding, 0.11 ± 0.07 on average, suggested that the horses were surely inbred. The horses had only 4 coat colors; bay, dark bay, buckskin dun, and chestnut, and 116 horses (92.8%) were bayish color, suggesting the fixation in their coat color. Moreover, the majority of them had dorsal stripe (83 horses; 66.4%), and the average heights at withers (131.9 ± 4.4 cm) and chest circumference (167.1 ± 10.1 cm) were not significantly different between males and females.
In mammal circulation, various ferritin-binding proteins (FBPs) are thought to be involved in the clearance of circulating ferritin after complex formation with it. However, horse FBPs are known to cause inhibitory effects on ferritin immunoassay due to the concealment of the ferritin molecule to anti-ferritin antibodies used in the ferritin immunoassay. These inhibitory effects are eliminated by heat treatment of horse serum at 75oC for 15 min. The inhibitory effects on ferritin immunoassay in the sera of ten foal sera (5 females and 5 males) from 1 to 18 months were detected during all periods, and ferritin concentrations of the foal sera increased 20-100% as compared with those of untreated sera by same heat treatment. Ferritin concentrations of heat-treated foal sera increased after birth, reaching to ferritin levels of adult horse at 9 months of age. Thereafter, although serum ferritin concentrations fell down at 12 months of age, these concentrations increased to adult levels at 15 months of age again. The ratio of ferritin concentration of heat-treated serum to that of the untreated serum was regarded as an apparent ferritin-binding activity. Ferritin-binding activities in the sera of foals showed peak at 2 and 4 months of age in females and males, respectively. These results suggested that horse FBPs were heat unstable, and FBPs may play an important role in iron metabolism at early developmental stage.