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Open Journal of Veterinary Medicine

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The aim of the current study was to identify associations between pituitary lesions, body condition scores, and mesenteric lipomas in horses with insulin resistance. Necropsy examinations were performed following euthanasia in 30 adult horses designated as insulin resistant (n = 11) or insulin sensitive (n = 19). Insulin sensitivity was determined using the insulin-modified frequently sampled intravenous glucose tolerance test and resting insulin concentrations. At necropsy, mesenteric lipomas were measured. The pituitary and adrenal glands, pancreas, and liver were evaluated histologically; pituitary glands were scored based on published criteria. Insulin-resistant horses had significantly higher pituitary scores (p = 0.0035) and body condition scores (p = 0.0001), even when adjusting for age, and a greater frequency of mesenteric lipomas (p = 0.014) and greater lipoma area (p = 0.0332) than insulin-sensitive horses. Regardless of insulin status, horses with pituitary scores ≥3 (diffuse hyperplasia; n = 25) had higher body condition scores (p = 0.0313) and a greater frequency of mesenteric lipomas (p < 0.0002) than those with lower pituitary scores. High body condition score was not correlated to an increased frequency of mesenteric lipomas. Detection of higher pituitary scores in insulin-resistant horses suggested an association between insulin resistance and pituitary morphology. Horses in the insulin-resistant group and those with high pituitary scores had higher body condition scores and a greater frequency of mesenteric lipomas. These horses might be at increased risk for lipoma-associated colic.


This article was published openly thanks to the University of Tennessee Open Publishing Support Fund.

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