OBJECTIVE To determine the locomotor response to the administration of fentanyl in horses with and without the G57C polymorphism of the µ-opioid receptor. ANIMALS 20 horses of various breeds and ages (10 horses heterozygous for the G57C polymorphism and 10 age-, breed-, and sex-matched horses that did not have the G57C polymorphism). PROCEDURES The number of steps each horse took was counted over consecutive 2-minute periods for 20 minutes to determine a baseline value. The horse then received a bolus of fentanyl (20 µg/kg, IV), and the number of steps was again counted during consecutive 2-minute periods for 60 minutes. The mean baseline value was subtracted from each 2-minute period after fentanyl administration; step counts with negative values were assigned a value of 0. Data were analyzed by use of a repeated-measures ANOVA. RESULTS Data for 19 of 20 horses (10 horses with the G57C polymorphism and 9 control horses without the G57C polymorphism) were included in the analysis. Horses with the G57C polymorphism had a significant increase in locomotor activity, compared with results for horses without the polymorphism. There was a significant group-by-time interaction. CONCLUSIONS AND CLINICAL RELEVANCE Horses heterozygous for the G57C polymorphism of the µ-opioid receptor had an increased locomotor response to fentanyl administration, compared with the response for horses without this polymorphism. The clinical impact of this finding should be investigated.
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