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Publication Detail
Mild exercise early in life produces changes in bone size and strength but not density in proximal phalangeal, third metacarpal and third carpal bones of foals.
  • Publication Type:
    Journal article
  • Publication Sub Type:
    Journal Article
  • Authors:
    Firth EC, Rogers CW, van Weeren PR, Barneveld A, McIlwraith CW, Kawcak CE, Goodship AE, Smith RKW
  • Publication date:
  • Pagination:
    383, 389
  • Journal:
    Vet J
  • Volume:
  • Issue:
  • Status:
  • Country:
  • PII:
  • Language:
  • Keywords:
    Age Factors, Animals, Bone Density, Carpus, Animal, Female, Forelimb, Horses, Male, Metacarpal Bones, Physical Conditioning, Animal
Exercise or lack of it in early life affects chondro-osseous development. Two groups of horses were used to investigate the effects of age and exercise regimen on bone parameters of diaphyseal, metaphyseal, epiphyseal and cuboidal bones of the distal limb of Thoroughbreds. One group had exercised only spontaneously from an early age at pasture (PASTEX group), while the other group of horses were exposed to a 30% greater workload through additional defined exercise (CONDEX). Longitudinal data from peripheral quantitative computed tomography (pQCT) were obtained from eight scan sites of the left forelimb (proximal phalangeal (P(p); 1 site), third metacarpal (Mc3; six sites) and third carpal (C(3); one site) bones) of 32 Thoroughbred foals scanned five times from ∼3 weeks to 17 months of age. The primary outcome measures were bone mineral content (BMC), bone area (BA), and periosteal circumference (Peri C) in diaphyseal bone, with cortical thickness (CortTh), volumetric bone mineral density (BMD(v)) and a bone strength index (SSI) also being analysed. At the P(p) site within the model there was a significant effect (P=0.00-0.025) of conditioning exercise increasing bone parameters, except endosteal circumference (Endo C) and BMD(v). The BMC, BA, and SSI of P(p) were significantly greater in the CONDEX than PASTEX groups at 12 and 17 months (P=0.015-0.042) and CortTh at 17 months (P=0.033). At the M55 site of Mc3 BMC, BA and SSI (P=0.02-0.04), and at the M33 site, SSI (P=0.05) were higher in the CONDEX than PASTEX group. The adaptive responses, consistent with diaphyseal strengthening, were more marked in the diaphysis of P(p) than Mc3. In the Mc3, metaphysis, trabecular BMD(v) was less in the CONDEX than PASTEX group, associated with greater bone mineral accretion in the outer cortical-sub-cortical bone in the CONDEX group. There were no significant between-group differences in any epiphyseal or cuboidal bone parameter. Although the early imposed exercise regimen was not intensive, it had significant effects on diaphyseal bone strength, through change in size but not bone density.
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