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Frontiers In Veterinary Medicine Seminar Series

Impediments to Gas Exchange in the Thoroughbred Racehorse

On Friday, April 12, Dr. Ed Robinson will be speaking to students, faculty and staff on the impediments to gas exchange in the thoroughbred racehorse, as part of the Frontiers in Veterinary Medicine Seminar Series. His seminar will emphasize that racehorses are the equine production animals and show how, as in dairy cattle, management and modern biomedicine must come together to maximize productivity.

Dr. Robinson is the Matilda R. Wilson Professor of Large Animal Clinical Sciences and directs the Equine Pulmonary Laboratory at Michigan State University.  Dr. Robinson, his colleagues and graduate students investigate noninfectious equine respiratory diseases, and their recent emphasis has been on diseases affecting racehorse performance.  Investigations have used methods ranging from epidemiology to molecular biology and genetics.

Dr. Robinson and his group have published close to 300 papers, reviews, and chapters and he is editor of Current Therapy in Equine Medicine, now in its sixth edition.  He has received the Distinguished Faculty Award from Michigan State University, the Distinguished Alumnus Award from the University of California at Davis, the Docteur Honoris Causa from the University Liege, Belgium, presented the first Frank Milne Lecture to AAEP, and is an honorary diplomate of the American College of Veterinary Internal Medicine.

In conversation with Dr. Ed Robinson:

In lay terms, tell us about your research and its impact.

My research group is interested in noninfectious airway disease of horses. This includes recurrent airway obstruction (a.k.a. heaves), inflammatory airway disease, exercise-induced pulmonary hemorrhage, and upper airway obstructions such as recurrent laryngeal neuropathy (a.k.a. roaring). In recurrent airway obstruction, we are trying to understand why horses with this disease develop such a severe inflammatory response when they are exposed to hay dust. In exercise induced pulmonary hemorrhage (EIPH, a.k.a. bleeders), which is an extremely common condition of racing horses, we are investigating the location of bleeding and the regulation of the small arteries and veins that are involved in the regulation of blood flow in the lung. With regard to upper airway obstruction, we are investigating the genetics of recurrent laryngeal neuropathy (roaring) which is a paralysis of part of the larynx.

What are the take away messages you want the audience to leave with?

  1. During racing horses have an extremely high maximal oxygen consumption which requires very healthy air passages and blood vessels to deliver the oxygen from the atmosphere into the lungs. Even small problems in the air passages and blood vessels can put a horse out of the money when it races.
  2. Recurrent laryngeal neuropathy obstructs the airways in the throat. Genetic investigations support a strong association between the height of the horse and the clinical expression of this disease.
  3. Air quality in the stable is an important factor in the presence of disease in the lower airways.
  4. Bleeding into the lungs during racing (EIPH) occurs in the regions of highest blood flow and is strongly associated with obstruction of the small veins in that region.

Presented on April 12, 2014.