Project involving VDL faculty and staff wins prestigious award

December 8, 2016

Dr. Anibal Armién and Jan Shivers, VDL Histology section head, along with Dr. Stephanie Valberg and several other researchers from the University of Minnesota co-authored a publication on equine shivers which won the prestigious Davis-Thompson Foundation (former CL Davis Foundation) Journal award for best article in the journal Veterinary Pathology for the year 2016. 

The Davis-Thompson Foundation is an international organization whose goal is the advancement of veterinary and comparative pathology. 

The article entitled “The Equine Movement Disorder “Shivers” is Associated with Selective Cerebellar Purkinje Cell Axonal Degeneration” was the culmination of a 4 year project that involved an extensive histopathologic, immunohistochemical (IHC) and electron microscope study  of the central nervous system, hind limb peripheral nerves and hind limb muscles of affected and non-affected horses. 

The neuropathological examination including topographical, histological, immunohistochemically and ultrastructural analysis of this research was fully designed and executed by Dr. Anibal Armién with the contribution of Jan Shivers (immunohistochemistry lab), Dean Muldoon (electron microscopy  Lab) and Edgar D’Almeida (necropsy lab).  

Jan Shivers and the staff in the UMN VDL immunohistochemistry (IHC) lab researched and developed 7 new IHC tests, none of which had ever been developed for use on horse tissue. In all 13 different UMN VDL IHC tests were used during the study.

By applying ultrastructural analysis, Dr. Armién characterized the nature of the axonal degeneration and described for the first time in horses primary myelin degeneration, which has not been reported in any species until this moment.

With the outstanding neuropathological work performed by Dr. Armién, this study was able to demonstrate for the first time that equine shivers is characterized by end-terminal neuroaxonal degeneration in the deep cerebellar nuclei, which results in hypermetria (exaggerated gait of hind limbs) and myoclonus (involuntary quivering of muscles).

Link to the article

Davis-Thompson Foundation award plaque