Breathe Wheezy: Horses May Be Ideal Model To Study Age-Related Asthma In Humans

Horses may be able to be used as a model for studying asthma and its effect in older people, researchers reported in the International Journal of Molecular Sciences. Severe asthma in horses, known as heaves, recurrent airway obstruction (RAO) or summer-pasture associated obstructive pulmonary disease (SPAOPD), has many similarities to age-related asthma in humans.

Aging can cause a dysregulation of the immune system, leading to a state of chronic inflammation. This processes is dubbed “inflamm-aging.” Asthma tends to get worse as people age as the function of the respiratory system declines. Oxidative stress most likely plays a role in age-related disease.

The researchers proposed that naturally occurring equine asthma could be used as a model for studying the importance of oxidative stress, gradual deterioration of the immune system and chronic inflammation.

Equine asthma occurs spontaneously, and in its most-severe form, the horse experiences labored breathing even at rest triggered by hay dust antigens. It can be resolved with bronchodilators.

Equine asthma involves both genetics and environmental factors, and appears only in adult or older horses. A study has shown that aging is a risk factor for the development of severe equine asthma; horses that are over 15 years old have an increased risk of up to 18 percent for developing severe asthma. It is not clear why.

Deterioration of the immune system, age-related oxidative stress and inflamm-aging in horses mirror the issues elderly humans with asthma face. The long equine lifespan, as well as the natural occurrence of the disease, make the horse an ideal model to study.

Read more at HorseTalk.

Read the full study here.


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