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The first outline of the Equine Respiratory Tissue Biobank (ERTB) was drafted in 2006 in the Laboratoire de Biologie Cellulaire et Moléculaire Respiratoire of the Université de Montréal (Dr Lavoie) thanks to a successful collaboration with the Laboratoire de Télématique Biomédicale du RSR (LTB) (Dr Rousseau) and the QRHN Biobank (Dr Laviolette). The goal was to develop an efficient method of classification and archiving of physiological results the biological samples collected in well characterized diseased and healthy horses. This system has become essential for optimizing the sharing capabilities of the tissues samples between distant laboratories.

Origin of the tissues

The principle objective of the Equine Respiratory Tissue Biobank is to simplify the accessibility of tissues from well-characterized horses with respiratory diseases such as heaves and IAD. The Biobank archived also tissues of appropriate age-matched control horses.

The equine tissue samples are largely obtained from research projects having received accreditation by each institution animal care committee. The other samples are received from diagnostic procedure or euthanasia of a client-owned horses with permission from the owner.

Procedures and conservation

Uniformity in the collection and conservation of the samples is essential in obtaining valid results from studies having used materials from multiple research centers. The Equine Respiratory Tissue Biobank proposes standardized protocols to assure the uniformity of manipulations from the farm to the location of conservation, assuring quality for the specific needs of each research group. The Biobank ables the archiving of physiological measurements and other pertaining information to well characterize aliquot, extract, slide, pellet, or anatomic piece specimens as it functions in nature.


The extracts are regrouped into 3 sub-categories, RNA, DNA, and proteins. The RNA extracts are categorized by the description of the extraction technique employed, the ratio 260/280 and the (RIN). The use of protease and phosphatase inhibitors is indicated clearly in the Biobank for protein related extracts. Furthermore, the stimulants used are indicated for all the extracts from cellular isolation.


The slides permit the conservation of cells from different sources of origin (blood samples, bronchoalveolar or tracheal lavages) for future use. The fixation (acetone/methanol, formaldehyde, sucrose and others) or coloring is chosen in function of the subsequent analyses foreseen. The Equine Respiratory Tissue Biobank ables to record this information and assure a uniformity in the nomenclature of the fixatives used.

Pellets and pieces

The pellet and the anatomic pieces also undergo different processes of fixation (acetone, formaldehyde, liquid nitrogen, and others) in function with their future use. They are conserved in different embedding material (OCT, paraffin, etc.). A macroscopic evaluation of the pieces is performed for the characterization of the samples. Again, the Biobank archives all this information which allows for the user to chose the samples which best corresponds to their needs.

Physiologic results

The web application which supports the Biobank allows to archive many physiological parameters related to the specimens. This information is regrouped into five sub-categories: Subject, housing, medication, prophylaxis and diagnostic tests.

The categories "subject" and "housing" contain the information pertinent to the description of the animal, its background, and the feeding and bedding details at the time of obtaining the sample.

The categories "medication" and "prophylaxis" allows archiving the medications administered to the animal up until 6 months before the tissue sample was retrieved, as well as their vaccination and deworming records. The "medications" are regrouped based on their action mechanisms; corticosteroid, anticholinergic, ß2-agonist, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory, antibiotic, and others. The method of classification allows search by brand-name and by generic names of the medications.

The "test" category includes: clinical examination, respiratory function, endoscopy, bronchoalveolar and tracheal lavages, blood tests, performance evaluations and other tests. The section on the respiratory functions contains information particularly important to properly characterize the animal in time for sample retrieval. It permits the archiving of information obtained by standard respiratory function, or post-provocation and post-bronchodilatation. The visual characterization of the upper and lower airways is archived in the section endoscopy. The results of the analysis of the bronchoalveolar and tracheal lavages are found in the section lavages. The category of "other tests" conserve information from the thoracic radiographs.

All those informations allow to characterize the subject at the time of sampling, which facilitates the future use of samples.