Improving Stem Cell Therapy For Equine Arthritis

Veterinarians continue to look for an effective treatment—and a cure—for osteoarthritis in horses. The latest efforts focus on priming stem cells to decrease inflammation and alter immune cells within the joint.

“Stem cells injected into a horse’s joint are exposed to substantial inflammation due to the underlying disease process. Therefore, priming stem cells by incubating them in an inflammatory environment before injecting them into an arthritic joint may actually increase the efficacy of stem cell therapy,” explained Laura Petroski-Rose, B.V.M.S., a Kentucky Equine Research veterinarian.

This theory appears to hold true when tested in live horses, according to a Spanish veterinary research team.* As expected, both native stem cells and primed stem cells exerted anti-inflammatory effects. Those effects, however, were slightly more pronounced in the group of horses treated with the primed stem cells.

The researchers commented that the “findings of this study contribute to better understanding of the mechanisms underlying the beneficial effects of [stem cells] in joint pathology and how [stem cell] therapeutic potential could be influenced.”

“In addition to stem cells, experts recommend a multimodal treatment approach that also involves administration of oral joint health supplements. Kentucky Equine Research offers several high-quality, research-proven products designed to support optimal joint health,” advised Petroski-Rose.

These products include:

  • KER-Flex, a chondroitin and glucosamine product;

  • Synovate HA, a high-molecular weight hyaluronic joint lubricant; and

  • EO-3, containing the omega-3 fatty acids EPA and DHA, natural anti-inflammatory oils derived from cold water fish.

Australian horse owners should look for Glucos-A-Flex in Australia, too.

*Barrachina, L., A.R. Remacha, A. Romero, et al. 2018. Assessment of effectiveness and safety of repeat administration of proinflammatory primed allogeneic mesenchymal stem cells in an equine model of chemically induced osteoarthritis. BMC Veterinary Research. 14(1):241.

Article reprinted courtesy of Kentucky Equine Research (KER). Visit for the latest in equine nutrition and management, and subscribe to The Weekly Feed to receive these articles directly (  

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