Sugar spurs healthy equine fertility

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Carbondale, Ill. - The plant-based sugar, mannose, can cure and prevent endometritis, a uterine infection causing mare infertility, a scientist reports.

Carbondale, Ill. - The plant-based sugar, mannose, can cure andprevent endometritis, a uterine infection causing mare infertility, a scientistreports.

"We use it with all the problem mares that we breed, and they'vegotten pregnant every time," says Sheryl S. King, who leads the horseprogram at Southern Illinois University Carbondale.

Endometritis is an inflammation of the uterine lining that is usuallycaused by bacteria.

The treatment developed by King targets three bacterial strains, includinga variety that is costly to treat. It can be applied by mixing mannose ina salt solution and flushing it through the uterus or by adding mannoseto the semen extender used in artificial insemination.

The salt solution inhibits inflammation-causing bacteria from connectingto uterine tissue. But the semen solution is not necessarily a surefiremethod, says King. A mannose-filled semen extender does prevent infectionin healthy mares without a drop in pregnancy rates, yet infected mares inseminatedwith the semen usually fail to conceive.

King recommends a combination of both treatments. Use the mannose-saltsolution to flush the uterus then inseminate the mare with mannose extender.

"It works every time," she says.

The treatment is not commercially available and King does not expectthat to change anytime soon.

"Even though this works marvelously, it's not a technology - it'sa sugar, and sugars are everywhere," she says. "Drug companieswill not be interested in this because its use as a drug can never be patented."

For additional reports on this research, look up Volume 61 of the AmericanJournal of Veterinary Research and Volumes 13 and 18 of the Journal of EquineVeterinary Science.

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