Error processing SSI file
Error processing SSI file
Error processing SSI file

Brooks Equine Genetics Research Lab

Metabolic Study


The purpose of the Metabolic Study is discovering the genetics behind Equine Metabolic Syndrome (EMS) and Equine Cushing’s Disease (ECD).

  • Our study aims to create a better understanding of the genes responsible for predisposing horses to both ECD and EMS, and how to better manage those horses at risk.

EMS is an endocrine disorder that is characterized primarily by insulin resistance, but can also include obesity and chronic laminitis.  ECD, also known as pituitary pars intermedia dysfunction (PPID), is an endocrine disorder of the pituitary gland where the hormone adrenocorticotripin (ACTH) is over produced.  ACTH acts to signal the release of cortisol from the adrenal gland; with high levels of ACTH, excess cortisol is released into the body with many adverse effects.

Symptoms of EMS include:

  • Insulin resistance (hyperglycemia or hyperinsulinemia)
  • Fat accumulations along the crest of the neck, above the tail, above the shoulders, and in the sheath of stallions and geldings.  These horses often have a “pot belly” and are labeled as “easy keepers”.
  • Chronic laminitis
  • Abnormal estrous cycles in mares

Symptoms of ECD include:

  • High ACTH levels (hyperadrenocorticism)
  • High cortisol levels
  • Chronic laminitis
  • Decreased immunity – wounds are slow to heal and the horse has chronic infections
  • A long cury coat (hirsutism) with a delayed or abnormal shedding time
  • Fat accumulations in the same areas as EMS
  • Weight loss due to muscle loss along the back and ribs
  • Increased appetite
  • Increased water intake and urine output
  • Excessive sweating
  • Reproductive issues and infertility

The study is looking for Arabians and Morgans that show symptoms of EMS and/or ECD.  The study also needs control horses: Arabians and Morgans that are at least 10 years old, do not have symptoms of EMS or ECD, and are housed at the same stable as horses with EMS or ECD.

For the Metabolic Study, we are collecting from each horse:

  • A brief health history, especially as it pertains to EMS and/or ECD
  • 7 body measurements
  • 20-30 pulled hairs
  • A full body profile conformation picture
  • Copy of the pedigree

Return to Brooks Equine Genetics Research Lab Home Page


Error processing SSI file