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Laminitis Laboratory at New Bolton Center

Laminitis is a common and debilitating disease that affects the folded and interdigitating tissues, called the lamellae, which connect the hoof wall to the underlying tissues of the horse’s foot. The lamellae normally allow the transfer of the horse's weight from the skeletal elements of the digit to the hoof wall.

Dr. Galantino-Homer founded the Laminitis Laboratory at New Bolton Center  in 2008. The Laminitis Laboratory was formed in part due to the tragic loss of the 2006 Kentucky Derby winner, Barbaro, to laminitis in January, 2007.

Our goal is to better understand laminitis pathogenesis in order to improve the prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of this disease.

Our studies include the investigation of laminitis pathogenesis using protein biochemistry and histopathological analysis, characterization of the epidermal stem cell population in the lamellae, identification of diagnostic serum biomarkers for laminitis, and establishing an in vitro culture system for equine hoof epidermal cells to minimize the use of live horses for laminitis research.

The Laminitis Laboratory is home to the Laminitis Discovery Database, an archive of pathology images, histology slides, and frozen lamellar tissue and serum from naturally occurring cases of laminitis and unaffected control horses. These materials are being used for several published and ongoing multi-institutional collaborative studies.

Contact Information

Dr. Hannah Galantino-HomerHannah Galantino-Homer, VMD/PhD

Director, Laminitis Laboratory at New Bolton Center
Phone: 610-925-6246
Email: hghomer@vet.upenn.edu

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equine-hoof lamellae

Figure Legend: Confocal microscopy z-stack image of equine hoof lamellae stained with an antibody against desmoplakin (green), a cytolinker protein that anchors the keratin intermediate filaments of the epidermal lamellar cells to the desmosomal adhesion complexes between adjacent epidermal cells. The red stain represents a fluorescent counterstain (Wheat Germ Agglutinin conjugated with rhodamine) discovered at the Laminitis Laboratory by Robert K. Clark, a visiting scientist. The counterstain allows visualization of the connective tissues of the dermal lamellae and the perimembranous regions of the cells of the epidermal lamellae.

Clark, R.K. and Galantino-Homer, H.L. Wheat Germ Agglutinin as a Counterstain for Equine Hoof Lamina Immunofluorescence Studies.  Exp Dermatol. 23: 677-678, 2014; Epub 2014 July