By Emily Dickson
Your joints carry the load. Truly.
From simply standing, walking, or intense exercise, our joints stabilize our bodies and allow us to move.
In other words, our joints are under constant loading stress. Not to say that stress is always a bad thing. Stress has become a taboo term because of what we now associate with the word, but a healthy amount of physical stress is a good thing.
Particularly in the joint, adequate stress stimulates healthy turnover and remodeling. Just like your muscles need some stress to grow stronger, the same goes for the structures in your joint, like cartilage.
As you’ve read in past posts, biomarkers are a way for us to measure the stress within a joint, as different changes are made, such as new exercise routines or special diets.
Researchers have identified specific markers that give us information about collagen synthesis and degradation within the cartilage, a major supportive component of the joint.
In terms of collagen degradation, there is a biomarker called Collagenase Cleavage Neoepitope of Type II Collagen. Yes, it's a mouthful, so we’ll call it by its abbreviation: C2C.
The Collagen Ratio
Like I said, some stress is beneficial; some collagen degradation is a good thing. It becomes potentially harmful when degradation is happening at a greater rate than collagen synthesis.
As it relates to cartilage, research has shown that in injured horses and horses with osteoarthritis, there are higher levels of C2C. With OA or injury, cartilage is compromised, in large part due to increased inflammation. Of course, this means that there will be higher levels of degradation products.
When the level of degradation is higher than synthesis and the ratio is out-of-whack...Houston, we have a problem.
As with so many things in life, it’s all about the balance. And in this case, how to optimize your horse’s joint balance.