What is Equine Albumin
Albumin is a globular, single-molecule protein that is free-floating in blood plasma. Plasma is mostly water mixed with proteins, and half of those proteins are albumin. Albumin maintains osmotic pressure for, or thickens, the plasma which helps to maintain liquid in the blood. It is also responsible for ferrying hormones and fatty acids around the body.
If the body is low in albumin, plasma seeps into the surrounding tissue and causes edema, or swelling.
The albumin in horse blood is unique to the equine species.
Albumin Indicates Injury in a Horse’s Hindgut
Albumin is degraded by bile and enzymes (proteases and peptidases like pepsin and trypsin), delivered by the common bile duct into the duodenum, the first part of the small intestine. It does, however, survive the environment of the equine hindgut and may be passed from there into a horse’s feces.
As a result, albumin found in a horse’s feces originated from a source caudal to, or after, the duodenum, primarily the colon which is highly susceptible to injury.
All mammals, horses included, continually leak very low levels of albumin. Only amounts of albumin found in fecal matter in excess of 2ppm represent a true health concern.
Albumin Produced by Low-Grade and Severe Injuries
Albumin is present any time there is an open wound that causes active vascular bleeding, producing whole blood, such as a grade 2 or higher ulceration. It is also released from less severe wounds, such as weeping sores, or other mild injuries that seep plasma but don’t actively bleed.
Because albumin may be present at the site of a weeping sore (a compromised basement membrane), albumin in a horse’s feces may indicate a condition in the hindgut.
A Positive Equine Fecal Blood Test™ Result for Albumin
If you have received a positive result for albumin on the SUCCEED Equine Fecal Blood Test, the horse is suffering from a pathology in the hindgut specifically. The test has been carefully calibrated to only detect albumin in amounts great enough to reflect a true pathological condition.
Potential conditions include but are not limited to:
- colonic ulceration
- protein losing enteropathy
- inflammatory bowel disease
The results of the Albumin test provide an indiciation of hindgut injury. Combined with results for hemoglobin in the horse’s feces, the FBT may indicate whole blood loss in the hindgut and/or a corresponding foregut issue.
Albumin and Hemoglobin Results Together on the FBT™
When results for albumin and hemoglobin are used together, veterinarians have a useful tool to help determine whether the source of injury is in the horse’s foregut, hindgut, or both. Here’s what the combination of results shows:
- Positive for albumin only represents injury in the hindgut only.
- Positive for hemoglobin only represents a bleeding injury in the foregut only.
- Positive for both hemoglobin and albumin indicates a definite hindgut condition, and a potential foregut condition.
- Negative for both hemoglobin and albumin generally indicates no hindgut condition, and no foregut conditions equivalent to grade 2 or higher. However, a low-grade foregut condition, such as a grade 1 gastric ulcer is still possible.
It is critical to remember that ulcers can bleed intermittently or, in severe cases where colonic tissue has died and necrosis has occurred, they won’t bleed at all. We recommend testing a horse multiple times with the FBT for the most accurate results.
Remember that the FBT does not provide a diagnosis. Veterinarians should always use FBT results in conjunction with the horse’s history, symptomatology, and other diagnostics when evaluating digestive wellness or diagnosing health conditions and prescribing treatment.