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"What Are The Connections Between Laminitis, EMS, Leaky Gut, and Adipose Tissue?"

Obesity/EMS and endocrinopathic laminitis in horses have increased over the last 50 years, the problem is complex.

The links between the gut bacteria, adipose tissue and EMS/Laminitis
EMS, Gut Bacteria, Adipose Tissue


The Role of The Gut Bacteria in Laminitis/EMS/Obesity

Gut bacteria identified as biomarkers for Equine Metabolic Syndrome

The ECEIM Consensus State highlights the role of the microbiome (gut bacteria) in the onset of the disease through a messaging system that informs the liver, adipose tissue, and brain of the nutritional status, enabling a decrease/increase in energy storage (fat pads) or expenditure. A disruption of the gut balance can alter the entire metabolic status of the horse leading to chronic EMS.


The gut microbiome profile changes with EMS and the imbalances present in horses with EMS create an increased opportunity for inflammation and the production of toxic metabolites from pathogenic bacteria, increasing the chance of a laminitis episode.


Certain bacteria increase in the microbiome of obese horses namely BacteroidetesFirmicutes, and Actinobacteria. A bacterium from the phyla Verrucomicrobia has been suggested as a biomarker for EMS because percentages increase significantly in affected horses.


Human researchers using information from animal and human studies have found bacteria exist in the adipose tissue, the adipose tissue bacteria community resembles the gut suggesting a translocation event across the gut wall, and the predominant bacteria present in the adipose tissue is similar to those found in the gut of obese animals.


All animals including horses, are affected by the condition known as ‘leaky gut’ a condition that allows the ‘leakage’ or translocation of microbes, toxins, and pathogens across the gut wall.  

Leaky gut affects a large percentage of the equine population and can be a major cause of loss of performance and morbidity.


An explanation of how the gut bacteria and leaky gut interact with adipose tissue to cause inflammation
Leaky Gut in Horses



Actions: Test the Gut

Knowing what bacteria are in the gut will provide crucial information relating to the state of the gut microbial population, including the status/health of the gut wall. Though the microbial community of the horse is complex and diverse,  new gene technology, including AI enables us to analyse the health of the gut and give information relating to the links to horse health.   



Actions : Reduce the adipose tissue


In 2014 working with equine gut microbiome expert Professor Jamie Newbold, in a project funded by the Welsh Government, we tested a bioactive peptide from a family of ecdysteroids. Ecdysterones have a wide range of biological activities in mammals, including adipose tissue reduction and insulin regulation. Following the 2 month study the morphometric indexes of the obese horses in the study were reduced after supplementing the diet with ecdysterone. The microbiome profiles showed a reduction in verrucomicrobia (the biomarker of EMS).

EMS Biome Food 1 contains the bioactive peptide ecdysteroid, see EMS Gut Dysbiosis Test below.

Action: Address the leaky gut.

Plant polyphenols and plant bioactive peptides are effective at reducing the bacteria that translocate against the gut wall and those that form biofilms within the gut wall.

EMS Biome Food 2 contains both, see EMS Gut Dysbiosis Test below.

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