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Purpose of the study: To compare the results of clinical examination, bronchoalveolar lavage fluid (BALF) cytology, measurements of metalloproteinases (MMP)-2, MMP-9 and interleukin (IL)-8 between healthy individuals and horses affected by Inflammatory Airway Disease (IAD) and Recurrent Airway Obstruction (RAO) before and after therapy and environmental dustreduction. Methods: Clinical examinations including exercise tests, blood
gas analysis (BGA), endoscopy, cytology of BALF, measurement of interpleural pressure and radiographs of the thorax were performed in 20 horses. Horses affected by RAO or IAD were treated with inhalative beclomethasone (1500 lg), prednisolone (1,5 mg/kg PO) and stabled in a dust-reduced environment. Zymography of BALF supernatant was performed before and after therapy to detect MMP-2 and MMP-9, IL-8 was measured using an ELISA.
Results: 6 horses were affected by RAO in exacerbation (group A, severely affected), 6 were affected by IAD or RAO in remission (group B, moderately affected), 4 served as healthy controls (group C) and 4 horses suffered from other respiratory disease (group D). BALF after therapy was available from 5 horses. Whereas MMP-2 was detected in all horses, MMP-9 could only be detected in patients affected by respiratory disease, in particular RAO exacerbation. If treatment success was achieved, MMP-9 was no longer detectable. A correlation between quantitative IL-8 measurements and findings of clinical and cytological examinations could not be found.
Conclusions: MMP-9 can be used as a marker of acute respiratory disease, in particular RAO, and may be suitable as a marker of successful therapy and stabling in a dust-free environment.