OBJECTIVE To compare tear cortisol concentrations between horses and ponies with pituitary pars intermedia dysfunction (PPID) and healthy nonaged (≤ 15 years old) and aged (≥ 20 years old) horses and to determine whether serum and tear cortisol concentrations were correlated.
ANIMALS 11 horses and ponies with PPID and 20 healthy control horses and ponies (11 nonaged and 9 aged).
PROCEDURES Paired tear and serum samples were obtained from PPID and control animals. All animals were free of active ocular disease. Tear and serum cortisol concentrations were measured with an ELISA and chemiluminescent assay, respectively. Groups were compared with Kruskal-Wallis and Mann-Whitney U tests, and Spearman correlation analysis was used to examine relationships between tear and serum cortisol concentrations within groups.
RESULTS Median tear cortisol concentration was significantly higher in PPID animals than in aged control animals, despite comparable serum cortisol concentrations in PPID and aged control animals. Median tear-to-serum cortisol concentration ratios were also significantly higher in PPID animals than in aged control animals. Serum and tear cortisol concentrations were not significantly correlated in PPID or control animals.
CONCLUSIONS AND CLINICAL RELEVANCE Some horses and ponies with PPID had increased tear cortisol concentrations, compared with concentrations in healthy aged animals. Localized cortisol production in the tear film or altered cortisol binding dynamics could have contributed to this increase. Further studies are warranted to evaluate these mechanisms and to determine whether increased tear cortisol concentrations are associated with delays in corneal wound healing in horses and ponies with and without PPID.