Effectiveness of a superoxide dismutase supplement derived from melon extract as a recovery aid for horses following strenuous exercise

A. J. Walker, R. C. Avenatti, S. M. Arent, K. H. McKeever

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


An antioxidant derived from a variety of melon purported to be high in superoxide dismutase was fed to horses and the effect on performance and recovery was measured following repeated daily bouts of intense exercise. In a cross-over design study, six unfit Standardbred mares were fed this antioxidant at a rate of 2.0 IU/kg body weight (BW)/d as part of the daily ration for 4 weeks before undergoing a simulated race test (SRT) repeated over a 3-day period. The SRT, designed to simulate the training of Standardbreds, consisted of a 2 min warm-up at 6 m/s followed by a high speed run to fatigue at 125% of the speed calculated to correspond to the horse's maximal aerobic capacity (VO2max) as determined in a baseline incremental exercise test. Measurements included VO2 and the VO2 recovery time, VO2 at the point of recovery, run time, as well as plasma lactate, and plasma cortisol. Oxidative stress was measured by assessing malondialdehyde (MDA). The results from the study demonstrated that there were no differences (P>0.05) in mean values for the plasma concentrations of lactate, cortisol, or MDA. However, when supplemented with this antioxidant, there was an observable pattern with a small-to-medium effect size of an increase average run time of 14 s. Another important observation was that despite the longer run time, there was a moderate effect for a faster VO2 recovery time. The data suggest that supplementation with 2.0 IU/kg BW of this antioxidant had a modest but non-significant effect on performance and recovery time. Additionally, it did not negatively impact physiology in untrained Standardbred mares.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)213-221
Number of pages9
JournalComparative Exercise Physiology
Issue number4
StatePublished - 2015

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biophysics
  • Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism
  • Biochemistry
  • Physiology
  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine
  • veterinary (miscalleneous)
  • Physiology (medical)


  • Equine
  • Exercise
  • Recovery
  • SOD


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