Influence of feeding status, time of the day, and season on baseline adrenocorticotropic hormone and the response to thyrotropin releasing hormone-stimulation test in healthy horses

E Diez de Castro, I Lopez, B Cortes, C Pineda, B Garfia, E Aguilera-Tejero
Domestic Animal Endocrinology 2014, 48: 77-83
Equine pituitary pars intermedia function can be assessed by the measurement of baseline and thyrotropin releasing hormone (TRH)-induced concentrations of adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH); however, these measurements may be affected by the environment. Therefore, a prospective observational study evaluated the influence of feeding, time of the day, and season on baseline and TRH-induced concentrations of ACTH in healthy horses. Baseline ACTH was measured in 50 horses before and 2 h after feeding. Six research horses were subjected to a crossover study in which 6 TRH tests were performed in 2 different seasons, March-April (MA) and July-September (JS), at 2 different times of the day, 8 AM and 8 PM, and, under 2 different conditions relative to feeding status, fasted and 2 h after feeding. Differences between fasted and fed horses were found in baseline ACTH, 17.1 ± 1.8 versus 46.1 ± 7.6 pg/mL (P = 0.003) and TRH-stimulated ACTH: 124.1 ± 21.3 versus 192.6 ± 33.1 pg/mL (P = 0.029) at 10 min, and 40.1 ± 4.9 versus 73.2 ± 13.4 pg/mL (P = 0.018) at 30 min post TRH injection. No differences were found between tests performed at different times of the day. Basal ACTH concentrations were greater in JS than in MA, 17.1 ± 1.8 versus 11.9 ± 0.6 pg/mL (P = 0.006). A seasonal influence was also found in stimulated ACTH values, which were much greater in JS 122.7 ± 36.7 versus 31.2 ± 7.4 pg/mL, at 10 min (P = 0.03) and 39.0 ± 7.2 versus 19.8 ± 3.1 pg/mL, at 30 min (P = 0.03). In addition to season, feeding is a potential confounding factor when measuring baseline or stimulated ACTH in horses. In conclusion, feeding status should be standardized for the diagnosis of equine pituitary pars intermedia dysfunction.

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