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CVM’s Philip Johnson Helps Make Equine
Research Readily Available

Veterinarians and horse owners seeking information on equine endocrine disorders now have a free resource for recent published scientific articles. Dr. Philip Johnson, professor of equine internal medicine at the MU College of Veterinary Medicine, and Dr. Nicholas Frank of Tufts University and the University of Nottingham, leading international authorities on equine endocrinology, compiled the collection. Composed of articles from Equine Veterinary Education and Equine Veterinary Journal, it is available at

The endocrine system is a collection of glands that secrete hormones into the bloodstream to control an organism’s physiological and behavioral activities. The system helps regulate mood, growth and development, tissue function, metabolism, and sexual function and reproductive processes.

Equine endocrine disorders are becoming more promptly identified and treated, thanks to ongoing research and scientific advances, including methods of diagnosis, pharmacokinetics and management protocols. The collection encompasses a comprehensive range of topics within the field of endocrinology and includes authoritative review articles on insulin dysregulation, glucocorticoids and laminitis and paraneoplastic syndromes.

Johnson has been involved in extensive laminitis research throughout the past two decades. Laminitis is a common and potentially severe medical condition of horses and ponies that can cause lameness, pain and debilitation. In severe cases, euthanasia is sometimes the end result.

Although there are many different causes of the condition, Johnson’s team has become especially interested in endocrinopathic forms of the disease.

“Endocrinopathic laminitis is a significant risk associated with two of the most common endocrine diseases of horses – the equine metabolic syndrome (insulin dysregulation) and the equine Cushing’s syndrome,” Johnson said. “Therefore, there is a very profound link between endocrinological disturbance and risk of laminitis.”

Pituitary pars intermedia dysfunction (PPID), also known as Cushing’s Syndrome, is a progressive neurodegenerative condition that is more easily recognised in its advanced form in older horses. Surveys show a PPID prevalence rate of up to 22 percent in horses older than 15, with the odds of developing clinical signs associated with PPID increasing by approximately 20 percent per year after this age.

Johnson completed his veterinary studies at the University of Bristol in the United Kingdom and earned a master of science in veterinary clinical medicine at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. In addition to being a diplomate of the American College of Veterinary Internal Medicine and the European College of Equine Internal Medicine, he is also a member of the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons and of the International Equine Veterinarian Hall of Fame.

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Last Update: February 29, 2012