Vitamin E is essential for neuromuscular function. The primary treatment, oral supplementation with natural (‘RRR’) α-tocopherol, is not effective in all horses. The objectives of this pilot study were to evaluate the safety and efficacy of a subcutaneously administered RRR-α-tocopherol preparation. Horses were randomly assigned in a cross-over design to initially receive RRR-α-tocopherol (5000 IU/450 kg of 600 IU/mL) subcutaneously (n = 3) or orally (n = 3) or were untreated sentinels (n = 2). Tissue reactions following injection in Phase I of the study necessitated adjustment of the preparation with reduction of the RRR-α-tocopherol concentration to 500 IU/mL in Phase 2. Following an 8-week washout period, horses received the reciprocal treatment route with the new preparation (5000 IU/450 kg of 500 IU/mL). Serum, CSF and muscle α-tocopherol concentrations were determined by high-performance liquid chromatography over a 14-day period during each phase. Serum and CSF α-tocopherol concentrations increased significantly postinjection only when the 500 IU/mL product was administered (P<0.0001). There was no significant difference in the muscle concentration of α-tocopherol following either treatment. All eight horses had marked tissue reaction to subcutaneous injection, regardless of product concentration. Whilst we have demonstrated that this route may be a useful alternative to oral supplementation, the marked tissue reaction makes use of such products limited at this time to only the most refractory of cases.
- vitamin E
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