The causal factors of equine anhidrosis have not yet been elucidated but defective electrolyte transport mechanisms in the gland are likely to be involved. To investigate this possibility, experiments were performed on cultured equine sweat gland epithelia from five free-sweating UK horses (3 intact males, 2 mares, aged 2-4 years) and from three free-sweating Singapore horses (1 intact male, 2 mares, aged 3-5 years) and three anhidrotic (Singapore) horses (1 intact male, 1 gelding, 1 mare, aged 3-6 years). Cultured cells from each animal were grown on permeable supports and loaded into Ussing chambers to quantify transepithelial resistance and agonist-induced electrolyte transport by the short circuit current (Isc) technique. Transepithelial resistances across the layers of cultured cells were not significantly different between cells from UK and Singapore free-sweating horses, but were significantly reduced in anhidrotic animals. Purinergic agonists added to the apical and basolateral aspects of the cultured cells caused similar increases in Isc between the two populations of unaffected cells, but Isc increases were significantly reduced in anhidrotic animals. Beta-adrenergic agonist stimulation of the anhidrotic cell layers failed to elicit any change in Isc. These pilot results not only confirm earlier conclusions from anatomical findings that failure in the secretory process occurs in anhidrosis but also indicate that both of the known ion transport mechanisms are involved. The trigger for these failures warrants further investigation.
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