Osteoarthritis is a major cause of lameness in the horse, with estimates as high as 60% of lameness problems related to osteoarthritis. Usually a variety of treatment options are used together to manage horses with osteoarthritis.
-Non Steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs
-Intra-articular hyaluronic acid and corticosteroids injection
-Systemic injections, Legend and Adequan
-Oral supplements products containing chondroitin sulfate, glucosamine and hyaluronic acid
These products are used to help maintain the health of the joint and break the cycle of inflammation that occurs in arthritic joints. If the inflammatory process in joints is not reduced degradation of cartilage continues, resulting in more arthritic changes, resulting in more inflammation and so on. However none of these products directly protect the joint tissues, this is the function of IRAP therapy.
-IRAP (Interleukin-1 Receptor Antagonist Protein)
Interleukin-1 (IL-1) is thought to be a major mediator of joint disease causing inflammation and cartilage degeneration. IRAP is an antagonist to interleukin-1 and is thought to prevent IL-1 from binding to receptors on joint tissue and thus blocking the action and subsequent degradation of the cartilage caused by IL-1 within the joint. IRAP indirectly breaks the inflammatory cycle by preventing the actions of IL-1 from occurring. We don’t know how long the beneficial effects of IRAP remain in the joint but if we can minimize the development of osteoarthritis by blocking the cascade of reactions caused by IL-1 we will have improved the health of the joint and our overall management of the performance horse.
IRAP is produced by collecting blood from your horse in a special syringe containing glass beads that have been exposed to chromium sulfate. The glass beads stimulate the white blood cells to produce IRAP (IR-1Ra) which is then concentrated in the serum, drawn into syringes and frozen for use when needed. The joint is usually injected every 7-10 days for a series of 3 treatments. Typically 6-8 syringes are obtained from each IRAP blood draw.
The horse most likely to benefit from IRAP therapy are those with synovitis, mild to moderate osteoarthritis or other conditions that may result in inflammation within the joint. IRAP will not reverse any existing osteoarthritis in a joint but may serve to prevent further change and reduce progression of the disease.