Equine dysautonomia (grass sickness) is associated with altered plasma amino acid levels and depletion of plasma sulphur amino acids

B C McGorum, J Kirk

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To determine whether equine dysautonomia (ED) is associated with alterations in plasma amino acid metabolism, plasma amino acid profiles were determined for horses with acute (n = 10), subacute (n = 6) and chronic (n = 7) ED and for healthy cograzing horses (n = 6) and control horses (,n = 10). Horses with acute ED had perturbations in plasma amino acid profiles resembling those of severe protein malnutrition. In addition, horses with ED and cograzing healthy horses had depletion of the plasma sulphur amino acids cyst(e)ine and methionine. As similar plasma amino acid perturbations occur in subacute/chronic cyanide toxicity, the role of cyanogenic glycosides in the aetiology of ED warrants further study. Unfortunately, amino acid analysis cannot be used as a definitive premortem diagnostic test for ED, since there was overlap in the individual amino acid levels of control, cograzing and ED horses.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)473-477
Number of pages5
JournalEquine Veterinary Journal
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - Sep 2001

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