Relationships of inflamm-aging with circulating nutrient levels, body composition, age, and pituitary pars intermedia dysfunction in a senior horse population

Melissa H. Siard-Altman, Patricia A. Harris, Amber D. Moffett-Krotky, Joanne L. Ireland, Alejandra Betancourt, Virginia D. Barker, Kellie E. McMurry, Stephanie E. Reedy, Amanda A. Adams

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Scopus citations


Similarly to aged humans, senior horses (≥20 years) exhibit chronic low-grade inflammation systemically, known as inflamm-aging. Inflamm-aging in the senior horse has been characterized by increased circulating inflammatory cytokines as well as increased inflammatory cytokine production by lymphocytes and monocytes in response to a mitogen. Little is currently known regarding underlying causes of inflamm-aging. However, senior horses are also known to present with muscle wasting and often the endocrinopathy pituitary pars intermedia dysfunction (PPID). Despite the concurrence of these phenomena, the relationships inflamm-aging may have with measures of body composition and pituitary function in the horse remain unknown. Furthermore, nutrition has been a focus of research in an attempt to promote health span as well as life span in senior horses, with some nutrients, such as omega-3 fatty acids, having known anti-inflammatory effects. Thus, an exploratory study of a population of n = 42 similarly-managed senior horses was conducted to determine relationships between inflamm-aging and measures of circulating nutrients, body composition, age, and PPID. Serum was collected to determine vitamin, mineral, and fatty acid content. Peripheral blood mononuclear cells were also isolated to determine inflammatory cytokine production of interferon-γ (IFN-γ) and tumor necrosis factor-α (TNF-α) following stimulation with a mitogen, as well as to determine gene expression of interleukin(IL)-1β, IL-6, IL-10, IFN-γ, and TNF-α. Serum IL-6 and C-reactive protein were determined by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay. Whole blood was collected for hematological and biochemical analysis. Body composition was evaluated via ultrasound and muscle scoring for all 42 horses as well as by deuterium oxide dilution for a subset of n = 10 horses. Pituitary function was evaluated by measuring basal adrenocorticotropin hormone concentrations as well as by thyrotropin releasing hormone stimulation testing (to determine PPID status). Results showed various relationships between inflammatory markers and the other variables measured. Most notably, docosadienoic acid (C22:2n6c), docosapentaenoic acid (C22:5n3c), and folate were positively associated with numerous inflammatory parameters (P ≤ 0.05). Although no relationships were found between inflamm-aging and PPID, being positive for PPID was negatively associated with vitamin B12 (P ≤ 0.01). No relationships between inflammation and body composition were found. Even within this senior horse population, age was associated with multiple parameters, particularly with numerous inflammatory cytokines and fatty acids. In summary, inflamm-aging exhibited relationships with various other parameters examined, particularly with certain fatty acids. This exploratory study provides insights into physiological changes associated with inflamm-aging in the senior horse.

Original languageEnglish
Article number110013
JournalVeterinary Immunology and Immunopathology
StatePublished - Mar 2020

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2020 Elsevier B.V.


  • Horse
  • Inflamm-aging
  • Muscle
  • Nutrition
  • Pituitary pars intermedia dysfunction
  • Senior

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology
  • General Veterinary


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