Tel.+49 30 838 53555 Fax.+49 30 838-53480
This study aimed to carry out a comprehensive morphological examination of the structure and ultrastructure of the membrane-coating granules (MCG) and membrane-coating material (MCM) common to all hoof segments as well as segment-specific features in the MCG and MCM regarding their synthesis, structure and biochemical composition. Tissue samples from the hooves of the left front and right hind limb of 20 adult riding horses were used. Samples were preserved and embedded for histological routine methods as well as for histochemical techniques and tracer techniques for light and electron microscopy. The MCM shows a segment-specific structure, biochemical composition and function, which were demonstrated for the different parts of the hoof. The MCM and its properties are related to the segment-specific horn quality. Besides intercellular structural factors the MCM is of major importance for the structural integrity and the biomechanical properties of the hoof horn. The physiological structure and composition of MCM provides explanation for the existence of clinically well-known sites of predilection for hoof disorders such as the White Line Disease. Alterations of the MCM play a role in dysfunction and diseases of the hoof epidermis; they are particularly involved in the pathogenesis of infectious diseases of the hoof.