Summary Disintegration of the basement membrane (BM) of the equine hoof lamellae and failure of the BM to remain attached to the basal cells of the secondary epidermal lamellae (SEL) is one of the earliest pathological events to occur in acute laminitis. Changes in the lamellar basement membrane were investigated by immunolabelling the key structural components of the BM, type IV collagen, type VII collagen and laminin in the lamellar BM of horses 48 h after the induction of laminitis. Lamellar tissues were harvested from 2 normal horses and 2 horses with acute laminitis. Immunostaining with antibody raised against human epitopes for type IV collagen, type VII collagen and laminin successfully stained the basement membranes of horse hoof lamellar tissues. Vascular tissue did not immunostain with type VII collagen antibody. Normal BM stained as a fine dark brown line and the lamellar BM was adhered to the basal cells of the SELs with no evidence of lamellar separation. At least 2 changes to the lamellar BM occurred in acute laminitis: loss of attachment of lamellar epidermal basal cells to their underlying BM and disintegration of the lamellar BM. In some sections from feet affected by acute laminitis, there was widespread separation of the SELs from their BM without loss of BM immunostaining and in others there was extensive loss of BM immunostaining. In lesions characterised by lamellar separation, the epidermal basal cells at the tips of the primary epidermal lamellae appeared to have slipped away from their BM and were an amorphous clump of epidermal cells devoid of immunostained BM. The BM from which they had separated remained in its original position in the dermis and was clearly outlined by all 3 antibodies. In other areas, however, virtually all the BM immunoreactivity at the PEL tips was absent Only the occasional distorted SEL tip and fragments of BM retained sufficient immunostaining to allow anatomical identification. Numerous polymorphonuclear leucocytes (PMNs) invariably surrounded the tips of lamellae showing large scale loss of immunoreactivity and many PMNs had penetrated the lamellar BM and were within the epidermal compartments. PMNs were less frequent in the midlamellar region. Immunostaining of the BM of many SELs was absent in the midlamellar region. In some lamellae loss of BM immunostaining had occurred only at the bases of the SELs and fragments of immunostained BM were present in the zones of lysed BM suggesting that BM lysis was incomplete at the time of tissue fixation. In other lamellae, lysis of the BM was complete; there was no immunostained BM between SELs and the bulk of the epidermal cells of each PEL were an amorphous column of cells on either side of the central keratinised axis of the PEL. The lamellar BM which remained appeared as immunostained strands of unattached BM along the edges of the PDLs. Activation of BM degrading metalloproteinases (MMPs) occurs in acute laminitis and it seems likely that uncontrolled MMP activity is responsible for the loss and disorganisation of lamellar BM demonstrated in this study.
Equine Veterinary Journal – Wiley
Published: Sep 1, 1998
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