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Muscle and Joint Integrity: Current Situation, Prevention and Benefits of Primary Antioxidants

Benefits of MELOFEED & ALKOSEL Antioxidants

The qualities of “strength” and “speed” innate to horses as a species are often exploited to their maximum to optimise performance, meaning competition horses are regularly pushed to their physiological limits. Joints and muscles are key elements in the performance of competition horses. However, intense physical activity is often underestimated as a major source of oxidative stress, which is linked to excessive production of reactive oxygen species (ROS), and as a source of inflammation, which impairs the resistance of the horse’s muscles and joints.

Indeed, oxidative stress leads to an exacerbated inflammatory response that can jeopardise the natural regeneration of damaged tissue. Although inflammation is part of the normal reaction to stress (during heavy exertion, sustained physical exercise or in a competition), this physiological phenomenon must be controlled so that slightly damaged tissues are able to regenerate properly. In equids, oxidative stress, which is very common in working horses, is recognised as often being associated with the weakening of the membranes of muscles and joints. Violent physical exercise leads to micro-trauma that will damage the ultrastructure of muscle fibres and encourage local infiltration by white blood cells (onset of the inflammatory response), rapidly leading to a state of oxidative stress. The problem is how to regulate and balance the intensity of the inflammatory response, which although potentially responsible for cellular damage is absolutely necessary for the healing process.

Various indicators are described in the literature for objectively measuring the limits of resistance and even detecting critical situations in which physiological thresholds are exceeded. These blood and synovial biomarkers are accurate indicators of muscle and joint integrity and are therefore useful predictors of a horse’s sporting future.

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