Information about the effect of nonstructural carbohydrates (NSCs) in forage on the postprandial glucose and insulin response in horses is scarce. This is of interest as postprandial hyperinsulinemia in horses is a risk factor for laminitis. In addition, insulin sensitivity (IS) differs between breeds.
The aim was to evaluate the postprandial glucose and insulin response to haylage diets with different NSC content in horses of 2 different breeds and to evaluate the relationship between the postprandial insulin response and measures of IS derived from a frequently sampled intravenous glucose tolerance test (FSIGTT).
Standardbreds (n = 9) and Icelandic horses (n = 9) with a mean body condition score of 5.5 ± 0.6 (scale 1–9) were studied. Horses were clinically healthy at the start of the study and had no history of endocrinopathic laminitis. The experiment was conducted as a replicate 3 × 3 Latin square, in which horses were fed haylage diets with low (4.2%), medium (13.6%), and high (18.2%) NSC content of dry matter. Blood sampling was performed before feeding and every 30 min until 300 min after feeding. An FSIGTT was also performed in all horses.
The early (first 60 min) and the total (300 min) postprandial glucose and insulin response (area under the curve [AUC]) was higher after a meal of both medium and high NSC haylage in comparison with low NSC haylage when both breeds were combined (P ≤ 0.02). There was a main effect of breed for the early (P ≤ 0.004) but not for the total (P > 0.12) postprandial glucose and insulin response. The IS index was comparable between breeds (P = 0.75). The natural logarithm of the peak concentration, the AUC for the first 60 min and the total AUC for insulin, after a meal of medium and high NSC haylage, were moderately negatively correlated (P < 0.02; r = −0.55 to −0.72) with the natural logarithm of IS index from the FSIGTT. This relationship was not evident for haylage with low NSC content (P > 0.054).
This study demonstrates that the postprandial insulin response is affected by both the NSC content of haylage and the horse's IS. However, the impact of IS was diminished when the NSC content in haylage was low (4.2% of dry matter).
Link to the publication
Lindåse S, Müller C, Nostell K, Bröjer J. Evaluation of glucose and insulin response to haylage diets with different content of non-structural carbohydrates in two breeds of horses. Domest Anim Endocrinol 2018;64:49-58.