ResearchPad - equines Default RSS Feed en-us © 2020 Newgen KnowledgeWorks <![CDATA[Why do biting horseflies prefer warmer hosts? tabanids can escape easier from warmer targets]]> Blood-sucking horseflies (tabanids) prefer warmer (sunlit, darker) host animals and generally attack them in sunshine, the reason for which was unknown until now. Recently, it was hypothesized that blood-seeking female tabanids prefer elevated temperatures, because their wing muscles are quicker and their nervous system functions better at a warmer body temperature brought about by warmer microclimate, and thus they can more successfully avoid the host’s parasite-repelling reactions by prompt takeoffs. To test this hypothesis, we studied in field experiments the success rate of escape reactions of tabanids that landed on black targets as a function of the target temperature, and measured the surface temperature of differently coloured horses with thermography. We found that the escape success of tabanids decreased with decreasing target temperature, that is escape success is driven by temperature. Our results explain the behaviour of biting horseflies that they prefer warmer hosts against colder ones. Since in sunshine the darker the host the warmer its body surface, our results also explain why horseflies prefer sunlit dark (brown, black) hosts against bright (beige, white) ones, and why these parasites attack their hosts usually in sunshine, rather than under shaded conditions.

<![CDATA[Communication is key: Mother-offspring signaling can affect behavioral responses and offspring survival in feral horses (Equus caballus)]]>

Acoustic signaling plays an important role in mother-offspring recognition and subsequent bond-formation. It remains unclear, however, if mothers and offspring use acoustic signaling in the same ways and for the same reasons throughout the juvenile stage, particularly after mutual recognition has been adequately established. Moreover, despite its critical role in mother-offspring bond formation, research explicitly linking mother-infant communication strategies to offspring survival are lacking. We examined the communicative patterns of mothers and offspring in the feral horse (Equus caballus) to better understand 1) the nature of mother-offspring communication throughout the first year of development; 2) the function(s) of mother- vs. offspring-initiated communication and; 3) the importance of mare and foal communication to offspring survival. We found that 1) mares and foals differ in when and how they initiate communication; 2) the outcomes of mare- vs. foal-initiated communication events consistently differ; and 3) the communicative patterns between mares and their foals can be important for offspring survival to one year of age. Moreover, given the importance of maternal activity to offspring behavior and subsequent survival, we submit that our data are uniquely positioned to address the long-debated question: do the behaviors exhibited during the juvenile stage (by both mothers and their young) confer delayed or immediate benefits to offspring? In summary, we aimed to better understand 1) the dynamics of mother-offspring communication, 2) whether mother-offspring communicative patterns were important to offspring survival, and 3) the implications of our research regarding the function of the mammalian juvenile stage. Our results demonstrate that we have achieved those aims.

<![CDATA[Comparison of two portable clinical analyzers to one stationary analyzer for the determination of blood gas partial pressures and blood electrolyte concentrations in horses]]>

Portable blood gas analyzers are used to facilitate diagnosis and treatment of disorders related to disturbances of acid-base and electrolyte balance in the ambulatory care of equine patients. The aim of this study was to determine whether 2 portable analyzers produce results in agreement with a stationary analyzer. Blood samples from 23 horses hospitalized for various medical reasons were included in this prospective study. Blood gas analysis and electrolyte concentrations measured by the portable analyzers VetStat and epoc were compared to those produced by the cobas b 123 analyzer via concordance analysis, Passing-Bablok regression and Bland-Altman analysis. Limits of agreement indicated relevant bias between the VetStat and cobas b 123 for partial pressure of oxygen (pO2; 27.5–33.8 mmHg), sodium ([Na+]; 4.3–21.6 mmol/L) and chloride concentration ([Cl-]; 0.3–7.9 mmol/L) and between the epoc and cobas b 123 for pH (0.070–0.022), partial pressure of carbon dioxide (pCO2; 3.6–7.3 mmHg), pO2 (36.2–32.7 mmHg) and [Na+] (0.38.1 mmol/L). The VetStat analyzer yielded results that were in agreement with the cobas b 123 analyzer for determination of pH, pCO2, bicarbonate ([HCO3-]) and potassium concentration [K+], while the epoc analyzer achieved acceptable agreement for [HCO3-] and [K+]. The VetStat analyzer may be useful in performing blood gas analysis in equine samples but analysis of [Na+], [Cl-] and pO2 should be interpreted with caution. The epoc delivered reliable results for [HCO3-] and [K+], while results for pH, pCO2, pO2 and [Na+] should be interpreted with caution.

<![CDATA[Benefits of zebra stripes: Behaviour of tabanid flies around zebras and horses]]>

Averting attack by biting flies is increasingly regarded as the evolutionary driver of zebra stripes, although the precise mechanism by which stripes ameliorate attack by ectoparasites is unknown. We examined the behaviour of tabanids (horse flies) in the vicinity of captive plains zebras and uniformly coloured domestic horses living on a horse farm in Britain. Observations showed that fewer tabanids landed on zebras than on horses per unit time, although rates of tabanid circling around or briefly touching zebra and horse pelage did not differ. In an experiment in which horses sequentially wore cloth coats of different colours, those wearing a striped pattern suffered far lower rates of tabanid touching and landing on coats than the same horses wearing black or white, yet there were no differences in attack rates to their naked heads. In separate, detailed video analyses, tabanids approached zebras faster and failed to decelerate before contacting zebras, and proportionately more tabanids simply touched rather than landed on zebra pelage in comparison to horses. Taken together, these findings indicate that, up close, striped surfaces prevented flies from making a controlled landing but did not influence tabanid behaviour at a distance. To counteract flies, zebras swished their tails and ran away from fly nuisance whereas horses showed higher rates of skin twitching. As a consequence of zebras’ striping, very few tabanids successfully landed on zebras and, as a result of zebras’ changeable behaviour, few stayed a long time, or probed for blood.

<![CDATA[Trans ε viniferin decreases amyloid deposits and inflammation in a mouse transgenic Alzheimer model]]>

As Alzheimer’s disease (AD) induces several cellular and molecular damages, it could be interesting to use multi-target molecules for therapeutics. We previously published that trans ε-viniferin induced the disaggregation of Aβ42 peptide and inhibited the inflammatory response in primary cellular model of AD. Here, effects of this stilbenoid were evaluated in transgenic APPswePS1dE9 mice. We report that trans ε-viniferin could go through the blood brain barrier, reduces size and density of amyloid deposits and decreases reactivity of astrocytes and microglia, after a weekly intraperitoneal injection at 10 mg/kg from 3 to 6 months of age.

<![CDATA[Serological evidence of infection with dengue and Zika viruses in horses on French Pacific Islands]]>

New Caledonia and French Polynesia are areas in which arboviruses circulate extensively. A large serological survey among horses from New Caledonia and French Polynesia was carried out to investigate the seroprevalence of flaviviruses in the horse population. Here, 293 equine sera samples were screened for flaviviruses using a competitive enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (cELISA). The positive sera were then confirmed using a flavivirus-specific microsphere immunoassay (MIA) and seroneutralization tests. This serosurvey showed that 16.6% (27/163) and 30.8% (40/130) of horses were positive for cELISA tests in New Caledonia and French Polynesia, respectively, but the MIA technique, targeting only flaviviruses causing neuro-invasive infections in humans and horses (i.e. West Nile virus [WNV], Japanese encephalitis virus [JEV] and tick-borne encephalitis virus [TBEV]), showed negative results for more than 85% (57/67) of the cELISA-positive animals. Seroneutralization tests with the main flaviviruses circulating in the South Pacific revealed that 6.1% (10/163; confidence interval [95% CI] 3.0%-11.0%) of sera in New Caledonia and 7.7% (10/130; 95% CI 3.8%-13.7%) in French Polynesia were positive for dengue virus serotype 1 (DENV1) and 4.3% (7/163; 95% CI 1.7%-8.6%) in New Caledonia and 15.4% (20/130, 95% CI 9.7%-22.8%) in French Polynesia were found positive for Zika virus (ZIKV). Seroprevalence of the JEV and WNV flaviviruses on the 293 samples from both island groups were comparatively much lower (less than 2%). This seroprevalence study in the horse population shows that horses can be infected with dengue and Zika viruses and that these infections lead to seroconversions in horses. The consequences of these infections in horses and their role in ZIKV and DENV epidemiological cycles are two issues that deserve further investigation.

<![CDATA[Low field magnetic resonance imaging of the equine distal interphalangeal joint: Comparison between weight-bearing and non-weight-bearing conditions]]>

This descriptive study aimed to compare the magnetic resonance appearance of the distal interphalangeal joint articular cartilage between standing weight-bearing and non-weight-bearing conditions. Ten forefeet of live horses were scanned in a standing low-field magnetic resonance system (0.27 T). After euthanasia for reasons unrelated to the study, the non-weight-bearing isolated feet were scanned in a vertical positioning reproducing limb orientation in live horses. The same acquisition settings as during the weight-bearing examination were used. Thickness and cross-sectional area of the distal interphalangeal articular cartilage and joint space were measured on tridimensional T1-weighted gradient echo high resolution frontal and sagittal images at predetermined landmarks in both conditions and were compared using a linear mixed-effects model. Frontal images were randomized and submitted to 9 blinded readers with 3 different experience levels for identification of weight-bearing versus non-weight-bearing acquisitions based on cartilage appearance. Weight-bearing limbs had significantly thinner distal interphalangeal cartilage (p = 0.0001) than non-weight-bearing limbs. This change was greater in the distal phalanx cartilage than that of the middle phalanx. Blinded readers correctly identified 83% (range 65 to 95%) of the images as weight-bearing or non-weight-bearing acquisitions, with significantly different results observed among the different readers (p < 0.001) and groups (p < 0.001). These results indicate that distal interphalangeal articular cartilage and particularly cartilage of the distal phalanx thins when weight-bearing compared to the non-weight-bearing standing postmortem conditions and suggest that cartilage abnormalities may be more difficult to identify on weight-bearing standing magnetic resonance imaging.

<![CDATA[A genome-wide scan for diversifying selection signatures in selected horse breeds]]>

The genetic differentiation of the current horse population was evolutionarily created by natural or artificial selection which shaped the genomes of individual breeds in several unique ways. The availability of high throughput genotyping methods created the opportunity to study this genetic variation on a genome-wide level allowing detection of genome regions divergently selected between separate breeds as well as among different horse types sharing similar phenotypic features. In this study, we used the population differentiation index (FST) that is generally used for measuring locus-specific allele frequencies variation between populations, to detect selection signatures among six horse breeds maintained in Poland. These breeds can be classified into three major categories, including light, draft and primitive horses, selected mainly in terms of type (utility), exterior, performance, size, coat color and appearance. The analysis of the most pronounced selection signals found in this study allowed us to detect several genomic regions and genes connected with processes potentially important for breed phenotypic differentiation and associated with energy homeostasis during physical effort, heart functioning, fertility, disease resistance and motor coordination. Our results also confirmed previously described association of loci on ECA3 (spanning LCORL and NCAPG genes) and ECA11 (spanning LASP1 gene) with the regulation of body size in our draft and primitive (small size) horses. The efficiency of the applied FST-based approach was also confirmed by the identification of a robust selection signal in the blue dun colored Polish Konik horses at the locus of TBX3 gene, which was previously shown to be responsible for dun coat color dilution in other horse breeds. FST-based method showed to be efficient in detection of diversifying selection signatures in the analyzed horse breeds. Especially pronounced signals were observed at the loci responsible for fixed breed-specific features. Several candidate genes under selection were proposed in this study for traits selected in separate breeds and horse types, however, further functional and comparative studies are needed to confirm and explain their effect on the observed genetic diversity of the horse breeds.

<![CDATA[Balance control during stance - A comparison between horseback riding athletes and non-athletes]]>

Horseback riding requires the ability to adapt to changes in balance conditions, to maintain equilibrium on the horse and to prevent falls. Postural adaptation involves specific sensorimotor processes integrating visual information and somesthesic information. The objective of this study was to examine this multisensorial integration on postural control, especially the use of visual and plantar information in static (stable) and dynamic (unstable) postures, among a group of expert horse rider women (n = 10) and a group of non-athlete women (n = 12). Postural control was evaluated through the center of pressure measured with a force platform on stable and unstable supports, with the eyes open and the eyes closed, and with the presence of foam on the support or not. Results showed that expert horse rider women had a better postural stability with unstable support in the mediolateral axis compared to non-athletes. Moreover, on the anteroposterior axis, expert horse riders were less visual dependent and more stable in the presence of foam. Results suggested that horseback riding could help developing particular proprioceptive abilities on standing posture as well as better postural muscle tone during particular bipodal dynamic perturbations. These outcomes provide new insights into horseback riding assets and methodological clues to assess the impact of sport practice.

<![CDATA[Could posture reflect welfare state? A study using geometric morphometrics in riding school horses]]>

Despite the fact that animal posture is known to reflect emotional state, the presence of chronic postures associated with poor welfare has not been investigated with an objective tool for measuring, quantifying and comparing postures. The use of morphometric geometrics (GM) to describe horse posture (profile of the dorsum) has shown to be an effective method of distinguishing populations that are known to differ in terms of welfare states. Here we investigated photographs of 85 riding school horses differing in terms of welfare state, in order to determine if a specific posture (modelled by GM) is associated with altered welfare. The welfare state was estimated with the prevalence of stereotypic or abnormal repetitive behaviours, depressed-like posture and the ear positions. ANOVA results show that horses with stereotypic or abnormal behaviour, and to a lesser degree horses with depressed-like postures, tend to have a flatter, or even hollow, dorsal profile, especially at the neck and croup levels. These altered profiles could represent an additional indicator of poor welfare, easy to use in the field or by owners.

<![CDATA[Somatotype, body composition, and physical fitness in artistic gymnasts depending on age and preferred event]]>

In men’s artistic gymnastics, results that are particularly appreciated are those obtained in all-around and individual events such as the floor exercise, pommel horse, rings, vault, parallel bars and horizontal bar. However, few studies have explored the dependency of anthropometric characteristics and fitness from age category or the event preferred by gymnasts. Therefore, the aim of this study is to compare the somatic type, body composition and values of some anthropometric and fitness characteristics and indices of gymnasts according to age and preferred event. A total of 53 male gymnasts (19 seniors and 34 juniors) were examined right before the Polish Senior and Junior Championships in Artistic Gymnastics in Warsaw (May 25 to 28, 2017). We examined the characteristics of body length, skeletal system mass, muscle mass, skinfold thickness, and body mass (Tanita S.C.-330S). Body composition (Durnin and Womersley equations), somatotypes (Heath-Carter methodology), handgrip strength (Takei dynamometer), body balance (UPST), the power of the lower limbs (CMJ) were evaluated. Senior gymnasts presented higher than juniors experience, mesomorphy and had higher values in fitness tests of handgrip strength and power of lower limbs (p<0.05). The specialists in floor exercises and vault characterized in higher mesomorphy and lower ectomorphy (p<0.05) and better results of CMJ (p<0.05). We concluded: The seniors demonstrated natural predominance over juniors in several somatic and fitness variables. Detected differences can be useful in the process of identification and development of gymnastic talent. The detected effect of preferred event on certain variables that characterize body build and physical fitness can be useful for choosing a specialization in gymnastic event. A high skill level in all-around events at a national competitive level can be achieved by an athlete characterized by adequate experience, a mesomorphy somatotype component, lower limb index, pelvi-acromial index and relative HGSmax.

<![CDATA[Detection of MCPG metabolites in horses with atypical myopathy]]>

Atypical myopathy (AM) in horses is caused by ingestion of seeds of the Acer species (Sapindaceae family). Methylenecyclopropylacetyl-CoA (MCPA-CoA), derived from hypoglycin A (HGA), is currently the only active toxin in Acer pseudoplatanus or Acer negundo seeds related to AM outbreaks. However, seeds or arils of various Sapindaceae (e.g., ackee, lychee, mamoncillo, longan fruit) also contain methylenecyclopropylglycine (MCPG), which is a structural analogue of HGA that can cause hypoglycaemic encephalopathy in humans. The active poison formed from MCPG is methylenecyclopropylformyl-CoA (MCPF-CoA). MCPF-CoA and MCPA-CoA strongly inhibit enzymes that participate in β-oxidation and energy production from fat. The aim of our study was to investigate if MCPG is involved in Acer seed poisoning in horses. MCPG, as well as glycine and carnitine conjugates (MCPF-glycine, MCPF-carnitine), were quantified using high-performance liquid chromatography-tandem mass spectrometry of serum and urine from horses that had ingested Acer pseudoplatanus seeds and developed typical AM symptoms. The results were compared to those of healthy control horses. For comparison, HGA and its glycine and carnitine derivatives were also measured. Additionally, to assess the degree of enzyme inhibition of β-oxidation, several acyl glycines and acyl carnitines were included in the analysis. In addition to HGA and the specific toxic metabolites (MCPA-carnitine and MCPA-glycine), MCPG, MCPF-glycine and MCPF-carnitine were detected in the serum and urine of affected horses. Strong inhibition of β-oxidation was demonstrated by elevated concentrations of all acyl glycines and carnitines, but the highest correlations were observed between MCPF-carnitine and isobutyryl-carnitine (r = 0.93) as well as between MCPA- (and MCPF-) glycine and valeryl-glycine with r = 0.96 (and r = 0.87). As shown here, for biochemical analysis of atypical myopathy of horses, it is necessary to take MCPG and the corresponding metabolites into consideration.

<![CDATA[An economic analysis of a contingency model utilising vaccination for the control of equine influenza in a non-endemic country]]>


Equine influenza (EI) is an infectious respiratory disease of horses that has never been reported in New Zealand (NZ). However, the 2007 EI outbreak in Australia, previously EI free, spurred the NZ government and stakeholders into evaluating alternative EI control strategies in order to economically justify any future decision to eradicate or manage EI. To build on the policy debate, this paper presents an epinomic (epidemiologic and economic) modelling approach to evaluate alternative control strategies. An epidemiologic model to determine how alternative EI control strategies influence the distribution of EI. Model results were then input into a cost-benefit analysis framework, to identify the return and feasibility of alternative EI eradication strategies in NZ.


The article explores nine alternative eradication scenarios and two baseline strategies. The alternative scenarios consisted of three vaccination strategies (suppressive, protective or targeted) starting at three time points to reflect the commercial breeding-cycle. These alternatives were compared to two breeding-cycle adjusted baselines: movement restriction in the breeding season (August to January) or non-breeding season (February to July). The economic loss parameters were incursion response, impact to the commercial racing industry (breeding, sales and racing), horse morbidity and mortality, and compensation to industry participants.

Results and conclusions

Results suggest that the economic viability of the EI eradication programme is dependent on when within the breeding-cycle the EI outbreak occurs. If an outbreak were to occur, the return on each dollar invested for protective or suppressive vaccination strategies would be between NZD$3.67 to NZD$4.89 and between NZD$3.08 to NZD$3.50 in the breeding and non-breeding seasons, respectively. Therefore, protective or suppressive vaccination strategies could be prioritised, regardless of season. As multiple industry stakeholders benefit from these strategies, the study will enable policy development and to better formulate a user-pays eradication programme.

<![CDATA[Validation of modified radio-frequency identification tag firmware, using an equine population case study]]>


Contact networks can be used to assess disease spread potential within a population. However, the data required to generate the networks can be challenging to collect. One method of collecting this type of data is by using radio-frequency identification (RFID) tags. The OpenBeacon RFID system generally consists of tags and readers. Communicating tags should be within 10m of the readers, which are powered by an external power source. The readers are challenging to implement in agricultural settings due to the lack of a power source and the large area needed to be covered.


OpenBeacon firmware was modified to use the tag’s onboard flash memory for data storage. The tags were deployed within an equine facility for a 7-day period. Tags were attached to the horses’ halters, worn by facility staff, and placed in strategic locations around the facility to monitor which participants had contact with the specified locations during the study period. When the tags came within 2m of each other, they recorded the contact event participant IDs, and start and end times. At the end of the study period, the data were downloaded to a computer and analyzed using network analysis methods.


The resulting networks were plausible given the facility schedule as described in a survey completed by the facility manager. Furthermore, changes in the daily facility operations as described in the survey were reflected in the tag-collected data. In terms of the battery life, 88% of batteries maintained a charge for at least 6 days. Lastly, no consistent trends were evident in the horses’ centrality metrics.


This study demonstrates the utility of RFID tags for the collection of equine contact data. Future work should include the collection of contact data from multiple equine facilities to better characterize equine disease spread potential in Ontario.

<![CDATA[Lower allergen levels in hypoallergenic Curly Horses? A comparison among breeds by measurements of horse allergens in hair and air samples]]>


Exposure to horses can cause severe allergic reactions in sensitized individuals. The breed, American Bashkir Curly Horse is categorized as hypoallergenic, primarily due to reports of allergic patients experiencing fewer symptoms while handling this special breed. The possible reasons for this phenomenon could be lower allergen production and/or reduced allergen release into the air because of increased sebum content in their skin and hair compared to other breeds. Therefore, the aim of the current study was to compare different horse breeds in relation to allergen content in hair and airborne dust samples.


In total, 224 hair samples from 32 different horse breeds were investigated. Personal nasal filters were used to collect airborne dust during the grooming of 20 Curly Horses and 20 Quarter Horses. Quantitative analysis of all samples was performed using two newly developed immunoassays for the detection of horse dander (HD) antigens and the major allergen Equ c 1 and the commercial assay for Equ c 4. Results were analyzed using multiple linear regression models for hair samples and the Mann Whitney U test for airborne samples.


Horse antigen and allergen levels differed up to four orders of magnitude between individual animals. Despite enormous variability, levels of HD antigen, Equ c 1 and Equ c 4 in hair were significantly related to the breed and gender combined with the castration status of male animals. Curly Horses had significantly higher concentrations of all three tested parameters compared to the majority of the investigated breeds (medians: 11800 μg/g for HD antigen, 2400 μg/g for Equ c 1, and 258 kU/g for Equ c 4). Tinker Horses, Icelandic Horses and Shetland Ponies were associated with approximately 7-fold reduced levels of HD antigen and Equ c 1, and up to 25-fold reduced levels of Equ c 4 compared to Curly Horses. Compared to mares, stallions displayed increased concentrations of HD antigens, Equ c 1 and Equ c 4 by a factor 2.2, 3.5 and 6.7, respectively. No difference was observed between mares and geldings. No differences in airborne allergen concentrations collected with personal nasal filters during grooming were found between Curly and Quarter Horses.


Breed and castration status had a significant influence on the antigen and allergen levels of horse hair. However, these differences were smaller than the wide variability observed among individual horses. Compared to other breeds, Curly Horses were not associated with lower allergen levels in hair and in air samples collected during grooming. Our approach provides no molecular explanation why Curly Horses are considered to be hypoallergenic.

<![CDATA[Menopausal hormone therapy and the incidence of carpal tunnel syndrome in postmenopausal women: Findings from the Women’s Health Initiative]]>


Carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS) is a common and debilitating condition that commonly affects postmenopausal women.


To determine the effect of menopausal hormone therapy (HT) in healthy postmenopausal women on CTS risk.


We conducted a secondary analysis of the Women’s Health Initiative’s (WHI) HT trials linked to Medicare claims data. Separate intention-to-treat analyses were performed for the two trials; the conjugated equine estrogens alone (CEE alone) and the trial of CEE plus medroxyprogesterone acetate (MPA) trial. (, NCT number): NCT00000611.


Two randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trials conducted at 40 US clinical centers.


The sample size included in the analysis was 16,053 community-dwelling women aged ≥65 years at study entry or those who later aged into Medicare eligibility, and who were enrolled in Medicare (including Part A and/or Part B coverage).


Women with hysterectomy were randomized to 0.625 mg/d of conjugated equine estrogens (CEE) or placebo (n = 8376). Women without hysterectomy were randomized to estrogen plus progestin (E+P), given as CEE plus 2.5 mg/d of medroxyprogesterone acetate (n = 14203).

Main outcome(s)

The primary outcome was incident CTS and the secondary outcome was therapeutic CTS procedure occurring during the intervention phases of the trials.


A total of 16,053 women were randomized in both trials. During mean follow up of 4.5 ± 2.8 years in the CEE trial (n = 6,833), there were 203 incident CTS cases in the intervention and 262 incident CTS cases in the placebo group (HR, 0.78; 95% CI, 0.65–0.94; P = 0.009). The CEE+MPA trial (n = 9,220) followed participants for a mean of 3.7 ± 2.3 years. There were 173 incident CTS cases in the intervention compared to 203 cases in the placebo group (HR, 0.80, 95% CI, 0.65–0.97; P = 0.027).


These findings suggest a protective effect of menopausal HT on the incidence of CTS among postmenopausal women. A potential therapeutic role for other forms of estrogen therapy in the management of CTS warrants future research.

<![CDATA[MicroRNA characterization in equine induced pluripotent stem cells]]>

Cell reprogramming has been well described in mouse and human cells. The expression of specific microRNAs has demonstrated to be essential for pluripotent maintenance and cell differentiation, but not much information is available in domestic species. We aim to generate horse iPSCs, characterize them and evaluate the expression of different microRNAs (miR-302a,b,c,d, miR-205, miR-145, miR-9, miR-96, miR-125b and miR-296). Two equine iPSC lines (L2 and L3) were characterized after the reprogramming of equine fibroblasts with the four human Yamanaka‘s factors (OCT-4/SOX-2/c-MYC/KLF4). The pluripotency of both lines was assessed by phosphatase alkaline activity, expression of OCT-4, NANOG and REX1 by RT-PCR, and by immunofluorescence of OCT-4, SOX-2 and c-MYC. In vitro differentiation to embryo bodies (EBs) showed the capacity of the iPSCs to differentiate into ectodermal, endodermal and mesodermal phenotypes. MicroRNA analyses resulted in higher expression of the miR-302 family, miR-9 and miR-96 in L2 and L3 vs. fibroblasts (p<0.05), as previously shown in human pluripotent cells. Moreover, downregulation of miR-145 and miR-205 was observed. After differentiation to EBs, higher expression of miR-96 was observed in the EBs respect to the iPSCs, and also the expression of miR-205 was induced but only in the EB-L2. In addition, in silico alignments of the equine microRNAs with mRNA targets suggested the ability of miR-302 family to regulate cell cycle and epithelial mesenchymal transition genes, miR-9 and miR-96 to regulate neural determinant genes and miR-145 to regulate pluripotent genes, similarly as in humans. In conclusion, we could obtain equine iPSCs, characterize them and determine for the first time the expression level of microRNAs in equine pluripotent cells.

<![CDATA[An Enhanced Region Proposal Network for object detection using deep learning method]]>

Faster Region-based Convolutional Network (Faster R-CNN) is a state-of-the-art object detection method. However, the object detection effect of Faster R-CNN is not good based on the Region Proposal Network (RPN). Inspired by RPN of Faster R-CNN, we propose a novel proposal generation method called Enhanced Region Proposal Network (ERPN). Four improvements are presented in ERPN. Firstly, our proposed deconvolutional feature pyramid network (DFPN) is introduced to improve the quality of region proposals. Secondly, novel anchor boxes are designed with interspersed scales and adaptive aspect ratios. Thereafter, the capability of object localization is increased. Thirdly, a particle swarm optimization (PSO) based support vector machine (SVM), termed PSO-SVM, is developed to distinguish the positive and negative anchor boxes. Fourthly, the classification part of multi-task loss function in RPN is improved. Consequently, the effect of classification loss is strengthened. In this study, our proposed ERPN is compared with five object detection methods on both PASCAL VOC and COCO data sets. For the VGG-16 model, our ERPN obtains 78.6% mAP on VOC 2007 data set, 74.4% mAP on VOC 2012 data set and 31.7% on COCO data set. The performance of ERPN is the best among the comparison object detection methods. Furthermore, the detection speed of ERPN is 5.8 fps. Additionally, ERPN obtains good effect on small object detection.

<![CDATA[Use of principle component analysis to quantitatively score the equine metabolic syndrome phenotype in an Arabian horse population]]>

Equine metabolic syndrome (EMS), like human metabolic syndrome, comprises a collection of clinical signs related to obesity, insulin dysregulation and susceptibility to secondary inflammatory disease. Although the secondary conditions resulting from EMS can be life-threatening, diagnosis is not straightforward and often complicated by the presence of other concurrent conditions like pituitary pars intermedia dysfunction (PPID). In order to better characterize EMS, we sought to describe the variation within, and correlations between, typical physical and endocrine parameters for EMS. Utilizing an unsupervised statistical approach, we evaluated a population of Arabian horses using a physical examination including body measurements, as well as blood plasma insulin, leptin, ACTH, glucose, and lipid values. We investigated the relationships among these variables using principle component analysis (PCA), hierarchical clustering, and linear regression. Owner-assigned assessments of body condition were one full score (on a nine-point scale) lower than scores assigned by researchers, indicating differing perception of healthy equine body weight. Rotated PCA defined two factor scores explaining a total of 46.3% of variation within the dataset. Hierarchical clustering using these two factors revealed three groups corresponding well to traditional diagnostic categories of “Healthy”, “PPID-suspect”, and “EMS-suspect” based on the characteristics of each group. Proxies estimating up to 93.4% of the composite “EMS-suspect” and “PPID-suspect” scores were created using a reduced set of commonly used diagnostic variables, to facilitate application of these quantitative scores to horses of the Arabian breed in the field. Use of breed-specific, comprehensive physical and endocrinological variables combined in a single quantitative score may improve detection of horses at-risk for developing EMS, particularly in those lacking severe clinical signs. Quantification of EMS without the use of predetermined reference ranges provides an advantageous approach for future studies utilizing genomic or metabolomics approaches to improve understanding of the etiology behind this troubling condition.

<![CDATA[A systematic review of human and animal leptospirosis in the Pacific Islands reveals pathogen and reservoir diversity]]>


The Pacific Islands have environmental conditions highly favourable for transmission of leptospirosis, a neglected zoonosis with highest incidence in the tropics, and Oceania in particular. Recent reports confirm the emergence and outbreaks of leptospirosis in the Pacific Islands, but the epidemiology and drivers of transmission of human and animal leptospirosis are poorly documented, especially in the more isolated and less developed islands.

Methodology/Principal findings

We conducted a systematic review of human and animal leptospirosis within 25 Pacific Islands (PIs) in Polynesia, Melanesia, Micronesia, as well as Easter Island and Hawaii. We performed a literature search using four international databases for articles published between January 1947 and June 2017. We further included grey literature available on the internet. We identified 148 studies describing leptospirosis epidemiology, but the number of studies varied significantly between PIs. No data were available from four PIs. Human leptospirosis has been reported from 13 PIs, with 63% of all studies conducted in Hawaii, French Polynesia and New Caledonia. Animal leptospirosis has been investigated in 19 PIs and from 14 host species, mainly pigs (18% of studies), cattle (16%) and dogs (11%). Only 13 studies provided information on both human and animal leptospirosis from the same location. Serology results were highly diverse in the region, both in humans and animals.


Our study suggests that, as in other tropical regions, leptospirosis is widespread in the PIs while showing some epidemiological heterogeneity. Data are scarce or absent from many PIs. Rodents, cattle, pigs and dogs are all likely to be important carriers, but the relative importance of each animal species in human infection needs to be clarified. Epidemiological surveys with appropriate sampling design, pathogen typing and data analysis are needed to improve our understanding of transmission patterns and to develop effective intervention strategies.