Administration of enrofloxacin during late pregnancy failed to induce lesions in the resulting newborn foals

R. E. Ellerbrock, I. F. Canisso, P. J. Roady, A. Litsky, S. Durgam, G. Podico, Z. Li, F. S. Lima

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: A recent study demonstrated that enrofloxacin and ciprofloxacin cross the equine placenta without causing gross cartilage or tendon lesions in the 9-month fetus; however, long-term effects of in utero fluoroquinolone exposure remain unknown. Objectives: To assess effects of fetal exposure to enrofloxacin on the resulting foal's cartilage and tendon strength. Study design and methods: Healthy mares at 280 days’ gestation were allocated into four groups: untreated (n = 5), therapeutic treatment (7.5 mg/kg enrofloxacin, PO × 14 days, n = 6), supratherapeutic treatment (15 mg/kg, PO × 14 days, n = 6) and no mare treatment with treatment of the foals post-partum (n = 2). Mares were allowed to carry pregnancy to term, and foals were maintained on pasture for 5 weeks. After that foals were euthanized, and their articular cartilage and extensor and flexor tendons were examined macroscopically and histologically for lesions. Tendon strength was tested by loading until failure. Results: Administration of enrofloxacin at recommended doses in late gestation did not result in cartilaginous lesions or clinical lameness in any foal by 5 weeks old. Tensile strength was greater in hind tendons than front tendons, but no difference was found between foals born from treated and control mares. Expectedly, osteochondral changes were present both in foals born from enrofloxacin-treated mares and in negative control foals with no apparent association with fluoroquinolone treatment during pregnancy. Main limitations: Only one time point in gestation was evaluated, and mares treated in the study were healthy at time of treatment. Additionally, it is possible that the assessments performed herein were not sensitive enough to detect subtle or functional changes in the articular cartilage. Further studies are needed to determine if enrofloxacin administration during late pregnancy potentiates osteochondral alterations in the first year of life. Conclusions: While this study did not assess other stages of gestation or long-term foal outcomes, short-term administration of enrofloxacin to late gestation mares did not result in macroscopic or microscopic lesions in the resulting foals by 5 weeks of age.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)136-143
Number of pages8
JournalEquine veterinary journal
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2020


  • ciprofloxacin
  • fetal toxicity
  • fluoroquinolone
  • horse
  • pregnancy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Equine


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