Introduction: SOP® EQUWHITE, expanded vermiculite treated with Sirio Operating Process® technology, is thought to influence microbial ecology in the hindgut of horses. Endurance horses are subject of intense aerobic effort during training and competition, leading to stress and stress-induced immunodepression, and intensive sweat losses. The objective of the present study was to obtain preliminary results on the effects of supplementation of treated expanded vermiculite by assessing blood cell count, enzymatic activity and electrolyte concentrations in normal and immunodeficient horses. Materials and Methods: Four horses, including 2 immunodeficient animals, were treated with SOP EQUWHITE diet supplementation for one month (7 g/d). The control group consisted of one immunodeficient endurance horse to which the treatment was not administered. Blood analysis of CBC count and enzymatic activity, as well as electrolyte blood concentrations (phosphorus, potassium, and sodium) were analyzed before and after treatment. Mean and standard deviations, and percentage variation before and after treatment were calculated for each variable. Results: White blood cells (WBC) count increased 57.7 ± 15.6% with treatment. During the same period the study control horse presented a slight decrease (16.7%) of WBC count. Phosphorus (+22.4 ± 20.9%), potassium (+18.3 ± 4.6%) and sodium (+2.0 ± 1.6%) blood concentrations increased following treatment in immunodeficient horses. Discussion and Conclusions: Oral administration of SOP EQUWHITE led to an improvement of WBC count in both normal and in horses with low immune defenses. Moreover improvement of electrolyte blood concentrations in immune-depressed horses could suggest an improvement of their hydration status. Further studies on the effects of the product would be necessary, considering the small number of animals included in this study.
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