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Arthritis in Horses: Autologous Conditioned Serum and IRAP

Date Published: 07/16/2012

Since arthritis is one of the most common problems in performance horses, there are hundreds of different products to treat the condition and it always seems like there is something new on the market.  Today on Texas Vet News I am going to talk about one of those newer products called autologous conditioned serum and interleukin-1 receptor antagonist protein (IRAP). The term autologous conditioned serum simply means that serum from the horse that is to be treated is processed and injected back in the same horse.  In this process blood from the horse is mixed with special glass beads that stimulate a specific cell in the blood to produce the  protein called IRAP as well as other proteins.  After incubating, the serum is removed from the blood sample and is injected into joints with arthritis and inflammation. 

IRAP has been shown to block one of the major inflammatory pathways that lead to pain and arthritis in joints.  Dr. Matt Stewart indicates in the Equine Veterinarian that IRAP is used in people with rheumatoid arthritis although the results have been variable.  Both autologous conditioned serum and IRAP have been used in equine joints and have been shown to reduce lameness and aid in controlling the progression of arthritis but was less useful in stimulating cartilage repair.  Dr. Stewart indicates he has had success in his practice by using IRAP after two or more injections although the length of response is variable.  Some cases were sound for up to one year while others were only sound for 3 months.  Because of the cost, it seems that IRAP therapy is only used after other options have failed.  However, IRAP should actually be more effective when used early in the disease process and might be more effective for acute injuries.  

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