Below is an edited excerpt used with permission from a story posted to Morris Animal Foundation's website about a University of Kentucky study by Kristine Urschel, PhD, assistant professor in the Department of Animal and Food Sciences.

In a Morris Animal Foundation-funded study at the University of Kentucky, principal investigator Urschel is working to understand why old age leads to the loss of muscle mass in horses. Under the guidance of David Horohov, PhD, William Robert Mills chair and professor at the Gluck Center, Urschel's research could provide support for aging horses in several ways.

"This research could help extend the life expectancy of older horses and also help owners and stakeholders to better care for their aging equines," Urschel said.

The team's research focuses on how other age-related and geriatric diseases might affect protein metabolism. Specifically, the study is first testing to see how levels of inflammation common in older horses are related to protein synthesis. Second, the study is looking at how the age-related disease known as equine Cushing's disease might also affect protein synthesis.

Although the study is still a year from completion, results look promising. Many of the techniques being used in this study have been applied extensively in human studies, but never before with horses. Moreover, the study is examining how protein synthesis is affected by age-related factors at the whole body, muscular and molecular levels. As a result, new treatments based on significant findings in this study can be applied in various ways, including the development of dietary strategies and disease-specific treatments.

To see the complete story, please visit

Content provided by Alex Jimenez, Communications Coordinator at Morris Animal Foundation.

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More information on Gluck Equine Research Center and UK's Equine Initiative.

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