Noteworthy Research: 09/03

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Glucosamine Stems Inflammation
Most people tend to think of joint nutraceuticals, especially glucosamine, as “food” for the joint, providing substances that can be used to build/repair the cartilage and produce synovial fluid. There may be more to it.??

A study at Texas A&M tested the idea that glucosamine’s effectiveness could be related to control of inflammation.?? Recent research in arthritis has shown that activation of an enzyme called iNOS — or inducible nitric oxide synthetase — is an important initiating factor in the inflammatory cascade.??

The researchers found that administration of glucosamine to rats was able to significantly suppress nitric-oxide production in an experimental model of inflammatory arthritis.??

Macrophages cultured with the inflammatory trigger also showed a strong suppression of nitric-oxide production when it was incubated with glucosamine.

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It Was Caterpillars After All
Early indicators for the cause behind Reproductive Loss Syndrome (MRLS) — the abortions that decimated foal numbers in Kentucy in 2001 and 2002 — pointed toward the Eastern Tent Caterpillar, as its high numbers and the abortions coincided. However, it wasn’t clear if the caterpillars themselves were to blame or were simply an indicator of environmental conditions that favored the presence of the real cause. Research results released in June point strongly to the caterpillars themselves.

The studies, led by Bruce Webb and Karen McDowell, were a cooperative effort between the University of Kentucky and Rood and Riddle, a large private veterinary practice in central Kentucky.

They found that feeding pregnant mares whole caterpillars caused typical MRLS problems in five out of five mares. Feeding the exoskeleton of the caterpillars induced it in three out of five mares, while feeding homogenized caterpillars or only the internal organs of the caterpillars did not. No problems were observed in the control mares fed no caterpillar parts. It was also recently reported that irradiated caterpillars can cause MRLS. Since irradiation kills bacteria and viruses, this indicates something about the caterpillars themselves was the cause.

Now that the precise part of the caterpillar involved has been identified work will continue to determine precisely what the toxic agent is and how it causes MRLS. Fetal losses for 2003 were down significantly, a combined result of caterpillar numbers being considerably lower because of the weather and aggressive caterpillar control measures.