The effect of milk basic protein supplementation on bone metabolism during training of young Thoroughbred racehorses

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Reasons for performing study:

In laboratory animals, man and cell culture experiments, milk basic protein was reported to suppress bone resorption and promote bone formation. However, no studies in horses have previously examined the effect of milk basic protein.


To evaluate the effect of milk basic protein supplementation on bone metabolism in young Thoroughbred horses in training.


Twenty 2-year-old horses in training were used for 90 days in this study. The treatment group was fed a basal diet with 1 g of milk basic protein and the control group a basal diet only. Blood samples were collected on Days 0, 45 and 90 to determine serum calcium (Ca) and biochemical markers of bone metabolism. Radiographs were taken at the start and end of the study to determine radiographic bone aluminium equivalence (RBAE).


Serum osteocalcin (OC) was significantly higher at Day 45 after the beginning of the study in the treatment group compared to that in the control group. The treatment group showed a greater increase in the total RBAE change at the end of this study compared to that in the control group. However, there were no significant differences in serum Ca and carboxy-terminal telopeptide oftype Icollagen (ICTP) between groups.

Conclusions and potential relevance:

These findings provide preliminary evidence that milk basic protein has an effect on bone formation in 2-year-old Thoroughbred horses in training. However, further studies in larger groups of horses are now required to substantiate our findings.

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