Does road transport influence plasma leptin concentrations in horses? Preliminary study

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Transport is one of the most common stressors for horses leading to an increase in cortisol secretion. Cortisol promotes leptin synthesis and release. The aim of the study was to evaluate the effect of short transport on circulating leptin and cortisol concentrations. A total of 16 crossbred naïve horses (7 geldings, 9 mares) aged 2-11 years, and weighing 530-680 kg were included in the study. The horses were transported in a commercial horse-truck to an unknown holding pen for temporary housing. To measure plasma leptin and cortisol concentrations, three blood samples were collected from each horse: before transport, immediately after unloading from the truck, and nine hours after transport at the arrival point. Transport caused a significant increase in mean plasma cortisol concentration determined at unloading, and after nine hours of unloading, in comparison to values obtained before loading. Plasma leptin concentrations did not change during the study. In conclusion, transportation procedures did not influence plasma leptin concentration in horses, despite significantly increased cortisol release.

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