The history of research on the exercise physiology of racehorses in Japan dates back to the 1930s. A research report entitled “Studies on exercise physiology and performance testing of the racehorse”, published in 1933 by Shigeo Matsuba and Torao Shimamura of The University of Tokyo, was epoch-making and the most important study in the history of equine exercise physiology in Japan. Research results were reported from 92 Thoroughbred racehorses in a large-scale project during the period of 1928 to 1932 at the Shimofusa Imperial Farm and the Koiwai Farm, which were the two greatest racehorse farms at that time. A total of 20 physiological variables were measured to evaluate the fitness of Thoroughbred racehorses before exercise (Pre), just after exercise (Post), 1 hr after exercise (1 hr), 2 hr after exercise (2 hr), and 3 hr after exercise (3 hr) in order to calculate their recovery rates as an index of fitness and performance. The percentage of the Pre value at 1 hr, 2 hr, and 3 hr was calculated. When the percentage of a variable reached 95–105% of the Pre value, the variable was considered to be recovered. The percentage of the total number of variables that were recovered for each time period was calculated, and an overall average was calculated from them; Matsuba and Shimamura proposed calling this overall average the “recovery rate”, which could then be applied to evaluate each horse. The effects of training on racehorses were subsequently evaluated by measuring the various physiological variables and the recovery rate.
Five Thoroughbred foals (age, 8–33 weeks; median age, 31 weeks; weight, 122–270 kg; median weight, 249 kg) exhibiting ataxia with suspected cervical myelopathy (n=4) and limb malformation (n=1) were subjected to computed tomographic (CT) myelography. The areas of the subarachnoid space and cervical cord were measured on transverse CT images. The area of the cervical cord was divided by the area of subarachnoid space, and stenosis ratios were quantitatively evaluated and compared on the basis of histopathological examination. The sites with a ratio above 52.8% could have been primary lesion sites in the histopathological examination, although one site with a ratio of 54.1% was not a primary lesion site. Therefore, in this study, a ratio between 52.8–54.1% was suggested to be borderline for physical compression that damages the cervical cord. All the cervical vertebrae could not be scanned in three of the five cases. Therefore, CT myelography is not a suitable method for locating the site of compression, but it should be used for quantitative evaluation of cervical stenosis diagnosed by conventional myelography. In conclusion, the stenosis ratios determined using CT myelography could be applicable for detecting primary lesion sites in the cervical cord.
We observed structural changes in the follicles and uterus of heavy draft mares during estrus and examined the effect of a single injection of the gonadotropin-releasing hormone analog buserelin on ovulation and endocrine profiles. Twenty-two heavy draft mares were divided into a buserelin-treated group (n=8) and a control group (n=14). Mares were given an intramuscular injection of 40 µg buserelin when they presented signs of estrus to a teaser stallion, had ≥45 mm diameter follicles, and presented decreased uterine edema compared with the previous examination. The follicles and uterus were monitored using transrectal ultrasound imaging and measurement of blood levels of luteinizing hormone (LH), follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH), progesterone, and estradiol-17β. The ovulation rates within 48 hr was significantly higher in the treated group (100%, 8/8) than in the control group (57.1%, 8/14; P=0.051). The mean ± SEM time before confirmation of ovulation was 29 ± 9 hr for the treated group and 59 ± 7 hr for the control group. There were no significant differences in mating frequency, double ovulation rate, or fertility rate between the two groups. One to two days after administering buserelin, LH and FSH temporarily increased, and in the control group, LH was high during ovulation, whereas FSH temporarily increased with the growth of the follicle. These results indicate that a single injection of 40 µg buserelin when follicles are at least 45 mm in diameter and uterine edema is decreased is effective for inducing ovulation.
Transcriptome analyses based on DNA microarray technology have been used to investigate gene expression profiles in horses. In this study, we aimed to identify exercise-induced changes in the expression profiles of genes in the peripheral blood of Thoroughbred horses using DNA microarray technology (15,429 genes on 43,603 probes). Blood samples from the jugular vein were collected from six horses before and 1 min, 4 hr, and 24 hr after all-out running on a treadmill. After the normalization of microarray data, a total of 26,830 probes were clustered into four groups and 11 subgroups showing similar expression changes based on k-mean clustering. The expression level of inflammation-related genes, including interleukin-1 receptor type II (IL-1R2), matrix metallopeptidase 8 (MMP8), protein S100-A8 (S100-A8), and serum amyloid A (SAA), increased at 4 hr after exercise, whereas that of c-Fos (FOS) increased at 1 min after exercise. These results indicated that the inflammatory response increased in the peripheral blood cells after exercise. Our study also revealed the presence of genes that may not be affected by all-out exercise. In conclusion, transcriptome analysis of peripheral blood cells could be used to monitor physiological changes induced by various external stress factors, including exercise, in Thoroughbred racehorses.
Housekeeping genes (HKGs) are used as internal controls for normalising and calculating the relative expression of target genes in RT-qPCR experiments. There is no unique universal HKG and HKGs vary among organisms and tissues, so this study aimed to determine the most stably expressed HKGs in the equine kidney. The evaluated HKGs included 18S ribosomal RNA (18S), 28S ribosomal RNA (28S), ribosomal protein L32 (RPL32), β-2-microglobulin (B2M), glyceraldehyde-3-phosphate dehydrogenase (GAPDH), succinate dehydrogenase complex (SDHA), zeta polypeptide (YWHAZ), and hypoxanthine phosphoribosyltransferase 1 (HPRT1). The HKGs expression stability data were analysed with two software packages, geNorm and NormFinder. The lowest stability values for geNorm suggests that YWHAZ and HPRT1 would be most optimal (M=0.31 and 0.32, respectively). Further, these two genes had the best pairwise stability value using NormFinder (geNorm V=0.085). Therefore, these two genes were considered the most useful for RT-qPCR studies in equine kidney.
To evaluate the bispectral index (BIS) as an indicator of anesthetic depth in Thoroughbred horses, BIS values were measured at multiple stages of sevoflurane anesthesia in five horses anesthetized with guaifenesin and thiopental following premedication with xylazine. There was no significant difference between the BIS values recorded at end-tidal sevoflurane concentrations of 2.8% (median 60 ranging from 47 to 68) and 3.5% (median 71 ranging from 49 to 82) in anesthetized horses. These BIS values during anesthesia were significantly lower (P<0.01) than those in awake horses (median 98 ranging from 98 to 98) or sedated horses (median 92 ranging from 80 to 93). During the recovery phase, the BIS values gradually increased over time but did not significantly increase until the horses showed movement. In conclusion, the BIS value could be useful as an indicator of awakening during the recovery period in horses, as previous reported.