Investigation of the mechanism of insulin-induced laminitis in horses


This project builds on the successful completion of project UCS35, “Investigating the role of impaired glucose uptake in laminitis” that led to the groundbreaking discovery that high blood concentrations of insulin precipitate laminitis. This new project aims to investigate the mechanism of insulininduced laminitis in greater depth using both whole horse studies and a single limb model. It will achieve this by FIRSTLY conducting whole horses studies: 1. The hyperinsulaemic laminitis induction model will confirmed in young racing horses (known to be less insulin resistant) to demonstrate that endocrinopathic laminitis is not confined to ponies. 2. Corticosteroid induced laminitis will be explained by determining whether the hyperinsulinaemia induced by shortterm synthetic corticosteroid treatment promotes insulin resistance and precipitates laminitis. SECONDLY, to further investigate the mechanism and potential treatments for insulininduced laminitis we will use a single foot model. This refinement of the induction technique improves animal welfare while decreasing time and labour costs, thus accelerating the rate of progress. Specific studies include: 3. Timecourse/mechanism/early marker of laminitis 4. Investigation of a possible blood flow mechanism 5. Investigation of IGF1 as an insulin antagonist and potential therapeutic agent The results of this research will lead to better understanding of the pathogenesis of laminitis caused by hyperinsulinaemia. The lesions will be compared to laminitis triggered by other factors and provide insight into corticosteroidinduced laminitis. The research also aims to develop new treatment and improved prevention strategies for this type of laminitis. Australia’s leadership in equine laminitis research will be maintained.


Thoroughbred Horses

Research Organisation

The University of Queensland

Objective Summary

The project will reduce the incidence and impact of disease in horses by reducing the impact of laminitis. By promoting better understanding of the endocrinology of insulin in growing horses the project will reduce injury and breakdown of horses in work and training. The project will improve productivity in breeding by improved endocrinological management of mares and stallions. The publication record of the RIRDCs laminitis research team will promote the quality, quantity and effective communication of R&D for the horse industry both in Australia and internationally.

Project Code


Project Stage


Project Start Date

Sunday, June 1, 2008

Project Completion Date

Friday, September 30, 2011

Journal Articles From Project

Not Available

National Priority

Frontier technologies for building and transforming Australian industries

National Priority

Adoption of R&D

National Priority

HOR-Reduce the incidence and impact of diseases and parasites in horses


Related publications


Insulin-Induced Laminitis - An investigation of the disease mechanism in horses