Equine Fecal Microbiota Changes Associated With Anthelmintic Administration

Isabelle G.Z. Kunz, Kailee J. Reed, Jessica L. Metcalf, Diana M. Hassel, Robert J. Coleman, Tanja M. Hess, Stephen J. Coleman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

27 Scopus citations


The gastrointestinal microbiota (GIM) plays an essential role in maintaining intestinal homeostasis with disruptions having profound effects on the wellbeing of the host animal. Parasitic infection is a long-standing issue for the equine industry, and the use of anthelmintic drugs for parasite control has long been standard practice. The impact of anthelmintic treatment on the GIM in healthy horses is not well known. This study evaluated the hypothesis that anthelmintic administration will alter the equine fecal microbiota in horses without an observed helminth infection. Ten horses were treated with a single dose of QUEST PLUS (active ingredients: Moxidectin and Praziquantel) (Zoetis), and fecal samples were collected before and after treatment. Amplicon sequencing data were quality filtered, processed, and analyzed using QIIME2. Anthelmintic treatment corresponded with a small but significant decrease in alpha diversity (P-value <.05). Analysis of taxonomic abundances before and after treatment with DESeq2 identified 21 features that were significantly different after treatment (P adj -value <.05). Differences in beta diversity associated with treatment were not significant and potentially suggest factors unique to the individual may play an essential role in the specific responses observed. Overall, the present study does not indicate a broad, large-scale impact on the GIM after anthelmintic treatment. The results do, however, suggest the potential of individualized responses that are based instead on host factors. Identification of these factors and investigation of their impact on the host/microbiota relationship will contribute significantly to our understanding of the role of the microbiome in horse health.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)98-106
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Equine Veterinary Science
StatePublished - Jun 2019

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2019 Elsevier Inc.


  • Anthelmintic
  • Gastrointestinal
  • Helminth
  • Microbiome
  • Microbiota

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Equine


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