Equinelaminitis is a debilitating disease affecting the digital laminae that suspend the distal phalanx within the hoof. While the clinical progression of the disease has been well documented, the molecular events associated with its pathogenesis remain largely unknown. Using real time quantitative PCR (RT-qPCR), we have investigated the expression of genes coding for proteins containing a Disintegrin and Metalloprotease domain (ADAM), as well as genes encoding the natural inhibitors of these enzymes (tissue inhibitor of metalloprotease; TIMP) in horses with naturally-acquired (acute, chronic and aggravated chronic clinical cases) or experimentally-induced (black walnut extract (BWE) and starch gruel models) laminitis. Changes in expression of these enzymes and regulators may underlie the pathologic remodeling of lamellar tissue in laminitis. Genes encoding ADAMs involved in inflammation (ADAM-10 and ADAM-17), as well as those implicated in arthritis (ADAMTS-1, ADAMTS-4 and ADAMTS-5) were cloned, and the sequences used to generate specific oligonucleotide primers for the RT-qPCR experiments. Our results show that genes encoding ADAM-10 and ADAM-17 were not induced in most laminitic animals, whereas ADAMTS-4 gene expression was strongly upregulated in nearly all horses with experimentally-induced and naturally-acquired laminitis. The expression of matrix metalloproteases (MMP)-9 and ADAMTS-5 was also increased in many of the laminitic horses. In addition, TIMP-2 gene expression was decreased in most laminitic horses, whereas expression of genes encoding other TIMPs, namely TIMP-1 and TIMP-3, was randomly increased or decreased in the various models. We conclude that increased expression of lamellar ADAMTS-4 is a common feature of laminitis consistent with a central role of the gene product in the pathophysiology of the disease.
- Matrix metalloprotease,
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