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Edaphic and Phytochemical Factors as Predictors of Equine Grass Sickness Cases in the UK.

Edwards, SE; Martz, KE; Rogge, A; Heinrich, M; (2010) Edaphic and Phytochemical Factors as Predictors of Equine Grass Sickness Cases in the UK. Front Pharmacol , 1 , Article 122. 10.3389/fphar.2010.00122. Green open access

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Abstract

Background: Equine dysautonomia or equine grass sickness (EGS), as it is more commonly known, is a usually fatal disease of equids of uncertain etiology, although associated with grazing, that affects the autonomic and enteric nervous system. Lowered gastrointestinal motility, leading to paralysis of the gut, is one of the main symptoms of EGS. Previous studies have implicated anaerobic bacteria, notably Clostridium botulinum, but what triggers the severe bacterial infestations remains enigmatic. We hypothesized that a detailed comparison of soil mineral and botanical composition of EGS and control sites would yield new insights into the causation of the disease. Results: Between March 2007 and September 2008, soil, plant, and water samples from a total of 23 EGS sites and 11 control sites were studied. Metal and non-metal element levels of the soil and herbage samples were assessed. Significantly, EGS sites had higher levels of soil nitrogen, and significantly higher levels of iron, lead, arsenic, and chromium in the herbage. Toxic Ranunculus spp. (buttercups) were found in abundance at every EGS site, making ingestion plausible. Conversely, neurotoxin-producing cyanobacteria were not found in any of the water samples analyzed. Conclusions: The significantly higher levels of iron and heavy metals found in herbage growing in EGS sites, in addition to toxic Ranunculus species, suggest that previously unknown triggers are involved in a multi-factorial EGS etiology. Our results also show that cyanobacteria on the other hand, are unlikely to be a factor in EGS. Consequently, the concomitant presence of two (or more) factors could be the trigger for an outbreak of EGS.

Type: Article
Title: Edaphic and Phytochemical Factors as Predictors of Equine Grass Sickness Cases in the UK.
Location: Switzerland
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.3389/fphar.2010.00122
Publisher version: http://dx.doi.org/10.3389/fphar.2010.00122
Language: English
Additional information: PMCID: PMC3153002. Copyright: © 2010 Edwards, Martz, Rogge and Heinrich. This is an open-access article subject to an exclusive license agreement between the authors and the Frontiers Research Foundation, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original authors and source are credited.
Keywords: equine grass sickness, enteric nervous system, equids, heavy metals, iron, Ranunculus spp. (Ranunculaceae), cyanobacteria, UK
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Life Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Life Sciences > UCL School of Pharmacy
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Life Sciences > UCL School of Pharmacy > Pharma and Bio Chemistry
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/1352046
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