Inflammatory Bowel Disease in the horse. Is GLUTEN a culprit?

Equine Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) describes a group of diseases affecting the mucosa and submucosa of the intestinal wall. It is characterised by the abnormal infiltration of inflammatory cells in the intestinal wall. 

The cause(s) of IBD are not fully understood, however, it is thought that abnormal immune responses to bacterial, viral, parasitic, and/or dietary antigens play a key role. 

One such dietary allergen which has been highlighted is gluten, a protein which causes intestinal damage to people who suffer from coeliac disease. In recent years, gliadin (a component of gluten) has been reported to increase the permeability of the small intestinal mucosa and cause concurrent intestinal inflammation associated with IBD in the horse.

The key takeaway points from this are that diet can and does play an essential role in the health of the horse- beyond merely providing energy to fuel their work, growth and metabolic processes. 
As with any health condition in the horse (especially IBD), diet needs to be addressed for effective treatment/management of the condition in the horse. If the allergen remains in the diet, then inflammation and intestinal damage persists, despite treatment.

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