Journal of Veterinary Emergency and Critical Care – Most Recent



To determine the impact of age on survival in horses with colitis and to elucidate whether a lower type-1/type-2 cytokine ratio or an exaggerated inflammatory state contribute to reduced survival in aged horses.


Part 1: Retrospective cohort analysis. Part 2: Analytic observational study.


Part 1: One hundred twenty-four adult horses with colitis. Part 2: Twenty-nine adult horses with new diarrhea onset while hospitalized.

Measurements and main results

Part 1: Patient signalment, select clinicopathological data, diagnoses, treatment, hospitalization length, and invoice were compared between survivors (n = 101) and nonsurvivors (n = 23). Only age and plasma transfusion retained statistical significance in the final multivariate outcome model, with 8.5 times lower odds of survival in transfused horses (95% confidence interval [CI], 2.6-27.2%). Additionally, the likelihood of nonsurvival increased by 11.8% (95% CI, 4-20.2%) for every year the horse aged (P = 0.002). Similarly, geriatric horses (≥20 years) were 15.2 times more likely to die than young-adults (2-12 years, P = 0.03), independent of financial investment, documented comorbidities, and duration of hospitalization. Part 2: Select cytokine analyses were performed on serum collected from hospitalized horses within 1 hour of diarrhea onset (T0) and 6 hours later. At T0, all recorded clinicopathological variables were comparable between geriatric and young-adult horses, suggesting a similar degree of systemic illness. The median concentration of type-2 cytokines interleukin-4 and interleukin-10, and type-1 cytokine interferon-γ did not differ between age groups. Inflammatory cytokines interleukin-6 and tumor necrosis factor-α were significantly higher in geriatric compared to young-adult horses at both sampling time points.


Outcome of colitis was less favorable in aging horses and patients receiving a plasma transfusion. Although an exaggerated inflammatory state, based on increased interleukin-6 and tumor necrosis factor-α concentrations, in geriatric horses may contribute to reduced survival, a lower type-1/type-2 cytokines ratio was not identified in our geriatric population.

Journal of Veterinary Emergency and Critical Care, EarlyView.Wiley: Journal of Veterinary Emergency and Critical Care: Table of Contents

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