Event Abstract

Bone microstructure and fracture predisposition in young racehorses

  • 1 Massey University, Institute of Veterinary, New Zealand
  • 2 Massey University, Institute of Fundamental Sciences, New Zealand
  • 3 Massey University, Institute of Natural Resources, New Zealand

Musculoskeletal injury is a major reason for loss of performance in the equine athlete. Morphological changes in mineralised tissue have been observed at the exact sites of fracture initiation in young Thoroughbred horses before racing or training has even begun. This suggests that there may be factors related to early bone and joint development that contribute to later musculoskeletal problems and that some individuals could be inherently predisposed to fracture. The aim of this study was to determine whether differences in the chemical structure and composition (microstructure) of bone correlate with fracture predisposition. {BR}Small ex vivo bone sections were taken from the third metatarsal bone of nine horses at two specific sites associated with morphological abnormalities and at one control site. The animals consisted of four newborn and four 5-month-old foals, all of which were apparently normal, and one 3-year-old horse with known morphological abnormalities. Sections were dehydrated in ethanol and embedded in polymethylmethacrylate before the sample surface was carefully polished for subsequent microstructural investigation by Fourier transform infrared microspectroscopy (FTIR) in reflectance mode. Multiple FTIR spectra were collected in both the calcified cartilage and subchondral bone of each section. Discriminant analysis of the spectra was used to determine whether there were differences between individual horses or between normal and abnormal bone. {BR}Striking microstructural variations were observed in the apparently normal 5-month-old foals, raising intriguing questions around whether these differences simply represent normal variations between individuals or if such variations during early growth could have implications for bone health in later life. Discriminant analysis of samples from all nine animals revealed three distinct groupings related to age and health, with the first two discriminant functions separating newborns from older foals and apparently normal animals from the abnormal horse. {BR}While microstructural differences appear to exist amongst individuals and between animals of different ages and disease status, further work is required to establish the key features of the bone mineral and collagen that distinguish normal bone development from those which may compromise fracture resistance.

Keywords: Bones, Bone Research

Conference: 2011 joint meeting of the Bone Research Society & the British Orthopaedic Research Society, Cambridge, United Kingdom, 27 Jun - 29 Jun, 2011.

Presentation Type: Poster

Topic: Abstracts

Citation: Nicholson C, Firth E, Waterland M, Jones G, Ganesh S and Stewart R (2011). Bone microstructure and fracture predisposition in young racehorses. Front. Endocrinol. Conference Abstract: 2011 joint meeting of the Bone Research Society & the British Orthopaedic Research Society. doi: 10.3389/conf.fendo.2011.02.00045

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Received: 30 Sep 2011; Published Online: 30 Sep 2011.

* Correspondence: Dr. CL Nicholson, Massey University, Institute of Veterinary, New Zealand, c.nicholson1@massey.ac.nz

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