Researcher Profiles

Dr. Dorothee Bienzle

View Dr. Bienzle's University of Guelph profile
 
D_Bienzle
"Recurrent airway obstruction (heaves) is a big disease wherever horses are stabled. A horse with heaves may be unable to perform as an athlete. The condition is treatable in many respects but not entirely reversible."

 

Why is this important?

"Recurrent airway obstruction is a big disease wherever horses are stabled. With our cold climate horses are stabled much of the year and are therefore exposed to dust mites, bacteria and mould to which they become sensitive, leading to the development of recurrent lung inflammation. In horses, for reasons we don’t quite understand, this can become a vicious cycle that perpetuates itself leading to the condition commonly known as heaves." Dr. Bienzle adds, "A horse with heaves may be unable to perform as an athlete. The condition is treatable in many respects but not entirely reversible."

 
YouTube logo Dr. Bienzle discusses her research in our special feature
REPORT ON RESEARCH
 

Research Laboratory: Main focus of the laboratory is to explore the role of secretoglobins (protein) in the development and progression of lung inflammation associated with exposure to environmental antigens (irritants) in the horse.

Research Focus: Clara cells are specialized epithelial (surface) cells in the terminal small airways of the horse. The cells secrete a surfactant-like substance important in preventing the small airways from collapsing during expiration as well as protective substances against infections. A secretoglobin protein called Clara Cell Secretory Protein (CCSP) is produced by these specialized cells and plays an important role in counteracting lung inflammation in horses with heaves or recurrent airway obstruction (more on heaves). During chronic inflammation these cells get "exhausted" and no longer produce sufficient amounts of this protein. Dr. Bienzle and graduate students Drs. Paula Katavolos, Janet Beeler-Marfisi, Wole Odemuyiwa and Olivier Côté are seeking to understand more about what this protein normally does in a healthy horse and what it does in horses with chronic lung inflammation.

Clara_cells
A scanning electron micrograph of a bronchiole (small airway) from a healthy horse showing cilia from epithelial cells surrounding non-ciliated Clara cells (in collaboration with C. Ackerley).

Clara_cells
Image from a horse with heaves where Clara cells (stained brown) are sloughed into the lumen of the bronchus (airway).

Research Related Goals: Among Dr. Bienzle's goals are to better understand recurrent airway obstruction in horses, and to identify better means to prevent and to treat the condition.

Area of Specialty: Mechanisms of lung inflammation and altered hematopoiesis in horses.

Degrees: DVM, MSc (University of Guelph), PhD (Mcmaster University); Diplomate of the American College of Veterinary Pathologists.

Position: Professor, Veterinary Pathology, Ontario Veterinary College, University of Guelph

Responsibilities:
Clinical duties: Diagnostic clinical pathology
Teaching: Veterinary and graduate level
Committees: Department and college research committee, Ontario Racing Commission Advisory Board
Chair: Canada Research Chair in Veterinary Pathology

Horse background & Current horse ownership:
Dr. Bienzle grew up in Germany riding horses all her life with a focus on eventing. She has owned several horses over the years.

- Scarlett Magda