The basement membrane (BM) is a thin layer of extracellular matrix that regulates cell functions as well as providing support to tissues of the body. Primary components of the BM of epithelial tissues are laminin-332 (Ln-332) and collagen type IV. Equine laminitis is a disease characterized by destruction and dislocation of the hoof lamellar BM. Immunohistochemistry was used to characterize the distribution of Ln-332 and collagen type IV in the organs of normal horses and these proteins were found to be widespread. Analysis of a panel of tissue samples from horses with experimentally-induced laminitis revealed that Ln-332 and collagen type IV degradation occurs in the skin and stomach in addition to the hoof lamellae. These findings suggest that BM degradation is common to many epithelial tissues during equine laminitis and suggests a role for systemic trigger factors in this disease.
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