Laminitis is known to involve deregulation of proteases and destruction of the lamellar basement membrane with the host inflammatory response also playing a role. Leukocyte infiltration has been well characterized in the black walnut model of laminitis induction, but not in carbohydrate induced models. Increased gene expression of multiple cytokines, including IL-6, has also been implicated in laminitis development. Using real time PCR, immunohistochemistry and zymography methods, we characterize leukocyte infiltration and IL-6 gene expression in oligofructose (OF) induced laminitis. As well, we use two in vitro models to investigate a role for IL-6 in protease regulation. Laminitis was induced in normal standardbred horses (n=5) by alimentary OF dosing and lamellar biopsies were obtained throughout the 48 h experimental period. Lamellar explants and keratinocytes were also isolated from clinically normal horses for in vitro experiments. We found infiltration of calprotectin-positive leukocytes (monocytes and neutrophils) at 18-24h post oligofructose dosing, while IL-6 gene expression was increased as early as 12h post dosing. Additionally, while we found that IL-6 did not cause significant BM damage in vitro, it did result in increased secreted proMMP-9 levels from lamellar explants. Thus, we find that leukocyte infiltration does occur during oligofructose-induced laminitis development, however, IL-6 gene expression in the lamellae may precede leukocyte infiltration. Additionally, we show IL-6 plays a role in increasing the level of proMMP-9 in vivo in a manner that does not involve keratinocytes.
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