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What's new

Mar 21, 2017

Melon SOD: proven to preserve muscle and joint integrity in athletic horses

Mar 21, 2017

A new study conducted by Lallemand Animal Nutrition in partnership with the Ovvet Group (UK) and The Nutraceutical Alliance (Canada), was presented at the latest French Equine Conference in Paris, March 16, 2017.

This study shows the benefits of melon superoxide dismutase* (SOD), a source of primary antioxidants, for training horses1. Using a wide array of biomarkers, this original study helped identify relevant biomarkers for inflammation, muscle and cartilage damage in training horses. This showed that intense exercise generates oxidative and inflammatory stresses and increased risks of cartilage matrix and muscle cells damages.

The study concluded that melon SOD supplementation helped to maintain muscular and cartilage integrity and decreased oxidative stress and inflammation in training horses. It also highlighted the benefits of this supplementation in athletic horses or horses suffering from degenerative joint disease.

A robust model of stress

Athletic horses are often subjected to oxidative stress and inflammation, leading to the muscle membrane weakening and degradation of the cartilage matrix in joints. A study was conducted in Canada on a model of joint fatigue in athletic horses in order to investigate the effects of melon SOD supplementation on a large array of biomarkers of inflammation and joint damage.

In a first step, this model allowed to identify biomarkers of interest for horses subjected to intense training:

  • Inflammation can be evaluated locally and systematically with prostaglandin E2 (PGE2) and nitrogen monoxide (NO) levels in plasma and synovial fluid.
  • The horse oxidative status (total antiox status; TAS) and SOD activity were also evaluated both in plasma and synovial fluid.
  • Cartilage integrity can be assessed through the level of glycosaminoglycans (GAG) in synovial fluid, indicative of a degradation of the cartilage matrix.
  • Markers of muscle integrity were plasma levels of CRE and muscular enzymes CK, AST, ALP, GGT.

Two groups of 8 horses received either a placebo or a supplementation of vegetal SOD (2600 IU/horse/day; equivalent to 1 g melon SOD/horse/day) during 23 days and were submitted to a standardized exercise test known to induce mild-to-moderate oxidative stress and inflammation, during 2 sessions (pre- and post-supplementation).

The study confirmed that the exercise regimen induced inflammation and oxidative stress in horses’ synovial fluid, as well as degradation of cartilage matrix, which can lead to discomfort and pain, and leakage of muscular enzymes in the plasma, indicative of muscle membrane weakening.

Antioxidant supplementation helped maintain muscular and cartilage integrity

Supplementation with melon SOD enabled to:

  • Improve the horses’ antioxidant defenses: both TAS and SOD activity in synovial fluid are improved.
  • Reduce biomarkers of inflammation in plasma and synovial fluid (PGE2 and NO).
  • Decrease biomarker of cartilage degradation (GAG) in synovial fluid, sign of improved cartilage integrity.
  • Decrease the activity of muscular enzymes in plasma (CK, AST, GGT), sign of improved muscular integrity.

These results confirm previous findings with melon SOD on muscle cell integrity in athletic horses (Notin et al., 2010; Barbé et al., 2014), while bringing novel findings about the reduction of inflammation and SOD enzyme activation in synovial fluid, associated with maintained cartilage integrity.


1 F. Barbé, A. Sacy, Y. Le Treut, C. Lennen, M. Lindinger. Maintien de l’intégrité musculaire et articulaire: les bénéfices de la Superoxyde Dismutase végétale. 43e Journée de la Recherche Equine. 16 mars 2017, Paris, France.