Clinical Studies

CoQ10 and Equine Obesity & Metabolic Syndrome Study

“Assessment of Coenzyme Q10 Utility in Normalizing Insulin Dysregulation in Horses with Equine Metabolic Syndrome”

Purpose of Study

Equine Metabolic Syndrome (EMS) is an increasingly common endocrine disease in horses with serious implications not only on the quality of life but also on long-term survival. One of the hallmarks of EMS is insulin dysregulation. Horses with EMS also tend to have either generalized or regional obesity, elevated lipids in the bloodstream, and dysregulation of fat cell production. EMS puts horses at risk of chronic systemic inflammation, endotoxemia and laminitis. While several supplements and drugs have been investigated as treatment, an ideal agent has not been identified and current treatment for EMS relies on dietary management, exercise, and weight loss. These treatments are frequently unsuccessful and euthanasia is often the end result. Therefore, a real need exists for effective adjunctive therapies in horses with this condition. A recent study in insulin-resistant mice demonstrated that daily dietary supplementation with Coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10) resulted in decreased weight gain and fat tissue, lower cholesterol and triglyceride concentrations, and decreased fasting glucose and insulin concentrations. The objective of this study is to assess whether CoQ10 is an effective treatment for insulin resistance in horses with EMS.


The costs for 48 hours of study-required hospitalization, laboratory work, 30-day supply of CoQ10 or placebo and any other study-related requirement are covered by this study. If assigned to the CoQ10 group, your horse may experience improved insulin and glucose function and have improved clinical signs. In addition, this study could help us to determine a more effective treatment for horses who have insulin dysregulation secondary to EMS.

Note: Owners of horses assigned to the placebo group will be offered a free 30-day supply of CoQ10 after study completion.

Enrollment Requirements

Horses enrolled in this study need to have suspected or known Equine Metabolic Syndrome and Insulin Dysregulation. They need to be 6-14 years of age and be easy keepers. Horses with PPID (Cushings) or clinically significant abnormalities that are not consistent with insulin dysregulation will not be admitted to this study.

Treatment Methods

To screen your horse for this study, we will do a thorough examination and collect blood and urine for a CBC, serum chemistry and urinalysis. If test results indicate that your horse may have insulin dysregulation, we will enroll your horse in the study. Once enrolled, your horse will stay overnight to have a test called the Frequently Sampled Intravenous Glucose Tolerance test (FSIGT). This test, which involves injections of glucose and insulin, each followed by a series of blood samples, will determine whether your horse has insulin dysregulation. After insulin dysregulation is confirmed, you will be given either powdered CoQ10 or a placebo to administer to your horse at home for 30 days. Following the 30-day treatment, you will bring your horse back to the Veterinary Teaching Hospital for another overnight stay and repeat physical exam, CBC, serum chemistry, urinalysis, and FSIGT. IF, after the initial FSIGT test, insulin dysregulation is not confirmed in your horse, you will be released from the study (there will be no charge for this testing regardless of the outcome).

Owner Responsibilities

Owners are responsible for bringing their horse to the Washington State University Veterinary Teaching Hospital for two overnight stays: one at the beginning and one at the end of the study. Between those stays, they will be asked to give their horse either CoQ10 or a placebo for 30 days and record any missed doses or unanticipated health events. Owners will be required to keep their horse’s regular diet and routine unchanged during this 32-day study.

Contact Information

For more information please contact:

Jenifer R Gold, DVM, Diplomate ACVECC ACVIM
Clinic: 509-335-0711