Biochemistry, Department of


Date of this Version



J Vet Intern Med 2015;29:1692–1699 DOI: 10.1111/jvim.13604


2015 The Authors.


Background: Lower expression of secretoglobin and transferrin has been found in the bronchoalveolar lavage fluid (BALF) of a small number of horses with experimentally induced signs of recurrent airway obstruction (RAO) compared to healthy controls.

Hypothesis/Objectives: Secretoglobin and transferrin BALF expression will be similarly decreased in horses with naturally occurring clinical signs of RAO and in horses with experimentally induced clinical signs of RAO as compared to healthy controls and intermediate in horses with inflammatory airway disease (IAD).

Animals: Recurrent airway obstruction-affected and control horses were subjected to an experimental hay exposure trial to induce signs of RAO. Client-owned horses with a presumptive diagnosis of RAO and controls from the same stable environments were recruited.

Methods: Pulmonary function and BALF were evaluated from control and RAO-affected research horses during an experimental hay exposure trial (n = 5 in each group) and from client-owned horses (RAO-affected horses, n = 17; IAD-affected horses, n = 19; healthy controls, n = 5). The concentrations of secretoglobin and transferrin in BALF were assessed using Western blots.

Results: Naturally occurring and experimentally induced RAO horses had similar decreases in BALF transferrin expression, but secretoglobin expression was most decreased in naturally occurring RAO. Secretoglobin and transferrin expression were both lower in BALF of RAO-affected horses than in IAD-affected and control horses.

Conclusions and Clinical Importance: Secretoglobin and transferrin expression is decreased in BALF of RAO-affected horses after both experimental and natural exposure. Secretoglobin and transferrin likely play clinically relevant roles in the pathophysiology of RAO, and may thus be used as biomarkers of the disease.