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Cytokine profile influence equine ACS treatment results

Last changed: 08 July 2021
Horse eyes

Biologic’ therapies, such as autologous conditioned serum (ACS), are gaining popularity in treating orthopaedic conditions in equine veterinary medicine. Evidence is scarce regarding ACS constituents, and large inter-individual differences in cytokine and growth factor content have been demonstrated. The objective of the current study was to investigate the potential association between cytokine and growth factor content of ACS and clinical effect in harness racehorses with spontaneously occurring low-grade articular lameness.

Horses received 3 intra-articular injections of ACS administered at approximately 2-week intervals. Lameness evaluation consisting of a trot-up with subsequent flexions tests was performed at inclusion and approximately 2 weeks after the last treatment (re-evaluation); horses were classified as responders when there was no detectable lameness on trot-up and a minimum of 50% reduction in flexion test scores at re-evaluation. Association between clinical outcome (responders vs. non-responders) and age, lameness grades at inclusion (both initial trot-up and after flexion tests), treatment interval, follow-up time and the ACS content of IL-1Ra, IGF-1 and TGF-β was determined by regression modelling.


Outcome analysis was available for 19 of 20 included horses; 11 responded to treatment whereas 8 did not. There was considerable inter-individual variability in cytokine/growth factor content of ACS, and in the majority of the horses, the level of IL-10, IL-1β and TNF-α was below the detection limit. In the final multivariate logistic regression model, ACS content of IGF-1 and IL-1Ra was significantly associated with clinical response (P = 0.01 and P = 0.03, respectively). No association with clinical response was found for the other tested variables.


The therapeutic benefit of ACS may be related to higher levels of IL-1Ra and IGF-1. Our study corroborates previous findings of considerable inter-individual variability of cytokine- and growth factor content in ACS.

Link to the publication


Marques-Smith, P., Kallerud, A. S., Johansen, G. M., Boysen, P., Jacobsen, A. M., Reitan, K. M., Henriksen, M. M, Löfgren, M. & Fjordbakk, C. T. (2020). Is clinical effect of autologous conditioned serum in spontaneously occurring equine articular lameness related to ACS cytokine profile? BMC Veterinary Research, 16(1), 1-9.