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Interstitial lung disease with chronic fibrosis is a frequent cause of reduced performance in horses. The aim of this study was to establish a model of acute alveolar damage and interstitial lung disease in horses that could be used to monitor the histopathological lesions and changes in expression levels of genes relevant to pulmonary fibrosis. Six adult horses were given a single intravenous injection (6 mg per kg body weight) of perilla mint ketone (PMK). Transthoracic lung biopsy samples (1 x 0.2 x 0.2 cm) were collected before and after (days 1, 4, 8, 11, 15, 18, 22, 25 and 29) the administration of PMK. Light and electron microscopy revealed severe acute alveolar damage (days 1 to 4), proliferation of type II pneumocytes (days 4 to 11) and finally complete healing at about day 18. However, unexpectedly severe clinical signs necessitated euthanasia in two horses on days 9 and 11. The expression levels of the collagen genes COL1AI and COL3AI as well as transforming growth factor (TGF)-beta were examined in the biopsy samples by reverse transcription-real time quantitative polymerase chain reaction. COL1AI and COL3AI gene expressions were upregulated (3- and 17-fold, respectively) between days 1 and 29 in all six horses, whereas TGF-beta was upregulated in two horses (2- and 4-fold, respectively), between days 4 and 18. Although the gene expression analyses indicated a strong activation of the pro-fibrotic pathway, no interstitial fibrosis was seen in any horse. A complete necropsy performed on day 60 revealed complete recovery of the lungs of the four surviving horses, with no evidence of fibrosis. Unidentified compensatory mechanisms may have prevented pulmonary fibrosis, despite strong upregulation of pro-fibrotic genes.