A study on iron overload and insulin resistance as it might relate to laminitic horses

October 26, 2011 479 Comments

Since I wrote about iron and insulin resistance in horses two days ago, I stumbled over a paper by Dr. Eleanor Kellon that appears to have been created in 2006. The title is “Iron status of hyperinsulinemic/insulin resistant horses.”

Kellon conducted a study to determine if insulin resistant horses and ponies also show iron overload in their blood.

Insulin resistant horses and ponies were divided into two groups: those that received a balanced mineral diet and those that ate whatever minerals crossed their path. Another group of adult horses and ponies free of obvious disease served as controls.

There was a significant elevation in body iron in the insulin resistant horses on uncontrolled mineral intakes.

Kellon says: “Risk factors for equine insulin resistance have not been completed identified but likely represent an interaction between genetic predisposition, underlying disease states and the environment. Since genetic factors are beyond our control and drug therapy for PPID (Cushing’s) does not necessarily lead to resolution of IR, identifying external factors has the potential to improve control. The role of iron overload as a risk factor for IR and therapeutic effect of lowering body iron levels has been documented in man.”

And she concludes: “Animals on mineral balanced diets had normal TSI and ferritin levels, and improvement in their insulin resistance, but since other measures were undertaken concurrently (e.g. reduction in NSC of the diet), the effect of the mineral balancing per se could not be determined. More extensive prospective and intention to treat studies are necessary to clarify the role iron might play in equine IR.”


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