Differential effects of selective and non-selective cyclooxygenase inhibitors on fecal microbiota in adult horses. Academic Article uri icon


  • Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) are routinely used in both veterinary and human medicine. Gastrointestinal injury is a frequent adverse event associated with NSAID use and evidence suggests that NSAIDs induce gastrointestinal microbial imbalance (i.e., dysbiosis) in both animals and people. It is unknown, however, whether cyclooxygenase (COX)-2-selective NSAIDs induce dysbiosis, or if this phenomenon occurs in horses administered any class of NSAIDs. Therefore, our objectives were to determine whether the composition and diversity of the fecal microbiota of adult horses were altered by NSAID use, and whether these effects differed between non-selective and COX-2-selective NSAIDs. Twenty-five adult horses were randomly assigned to 1 of 3 groups: control (n = 5); phenylbutazone (n = 10); or, firocoxib (n = 10). Treatments were administered for 10 days. Fecal samples were collected every 5 days for 25 days. DNA was extracted from feces and the 16S rRNA gene amplified and sequenced to determine the composition of the microbiota and the inferred metagenome. While the fecal microbiota profile of the control group remained stable over time, the phenylbutazone and firocoxib groups had decreased diversity, and alteration of their microbiota profiles was most pronounced at day 10. Similarly, there were clear alterations of the inferred metagenome at day 10 compared to all other days, indicating that use of both non-selective and selective COX inhibitors resulted in temporary alterations of the fecal microbiota and inferred metagenome. Dysbiosis associated with NSAID administration is clinically relevant because dysbiosis has been associated with several important diseases of horses including abdominal pain (colic), colitis, enteric infections, and laminitis.

published proceedings

  • PLoS One

altmetric score

  • 10.08

author list (cited authors)

  • Whitfield-Cargile, C. M., Chamoun-Emanuelli, A. M., Cohen, N. D., Richardson, L. M., Ajami, N. J., & Dockery, H. J.

citation count

  • 19

complete list of authors

  • Whitfield-Cargile, Canaan M||Chamoun-Emanuelli, Ana M||Cohen, Noah D||Richardson, Lauren M||Ajami, Nadim J||Dockery, Hannah J

editor list (cited editors)

  • Wallace, J.

publication date

  • August 2018