Serum metabolomics identifies citrulline as a predictor of adverse outcomes in an equine model of gut-derived sepsis

Samantha M. Steelman, Philip Johnson, Amy Jackson, James Schulze, Bhanu P. Chowdhary

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

21 Citations (Scopus)


Acute laminitis is an inflammatory disease of the equine foot that often occurs secondarily to sepsis or systemic inflammation associated with gastrointestinal disease. It has been suggested that laminitis is similar to multiple organ dysfunction syndrome in humans, although in horses the weight-bearing laminar epithelium of the foot appears to be the tissue most sensitive to insult and the first "organ" to fail. Metabolomics performed on serum samples collected before (Con) and after (Lmn) experimental induction of gastrointestinal-associated sepsis in six horses detected 1,177 metabolites of both mammalian and bacterial origin in equine serum. Network and correlation analyses suggested a dysregulation of fatty acid metabolism in the Lmn group, as well as an accumulation of organic acids such as lactate. Furthermore, concentrations of the amino acid citrulline were decreased in Lmn samples from all study animals, suggesting that citrulline might be useful as a biomarker to identify critically ill animals that are at risk of developing laminitis. We therefore established normal ranges of plasma citrulline concentrations in a separate group of horses (n = 36) and tested the ability of citrulline to predict adverse outcomes (laminitis or death) in critically ill horses (n = 23). Plasma citrulline was significantly lower in critically ill horses that went on to experience adverse outcomes (n = 6). Further study is required to accurately determine a diagnostic cutoff, but the present data are suggestive of the predictive value of citrulline as a biomarker for laminar failure in equine sepsis.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)339-347
Number of pages9
JournalPhysiological Genomics
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - 2014
Externally publishedYes


  • Laminitis
  • MODS
  • Metabolomics

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Genetics


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