Rare kidney disease identified in horses

Researchers have identified equine cases of Fanconi syndrome, a rare kidney disease.

Fanconi syndrome involves a defect in a part of the kidneys called the proximal tubules, where important nutrients from the urine are normally resorbed back into the bloodstream. The defective tubules fail to reabsorb glucose, amino acids and bicarbonate, leading to metabolic problems. 

Fanconi syndrome is a well-recognized disease in humans and certain dog breeds, but remains rare in horses.

Fanconi syndrome is a well-recognized disease of people and Basenji dogs, and it has been associated with the ingestion of Chinese jerky treats (although the cause is still not precisely known) and hepatopathy in Labrador Retrievers. Fanconi syndrome had not previously been seen in horses. 

Recently, however, veterinary clinicians at Kansas State University (KSU), University of Illinois, Purdue University and University of Pennsylvania teamed up to diagnose transient Fanconi syndrome in two Quarter Horses referred to the KSU Equine Medical Center because of unexplained weight loss and excessive levels of glucose and lactic acid in their urine. A special Fanconi screening is available through the PennGen laboratory.

The cause of the condition was not identified, but the horses recovered after receiving supportive care, including the administration of intravenous fluids and electrolytes. 

Reference:Transient Fanconi syndrome in Quarter Horses,” Canadian Veterinary Journal, February 2014 

This article first appeared in EQUUS issue #440.

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