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To determine concentrations of dexamethasone in serum and urine of horses treated repeatedly with a topically administered ophthalmic dexamethasone preparation.


4 clinically normal horses (2 mares, 2 geldings).


0.1% dexamethasone ophthalmic ointment was administered to the left eye of each horse every 5 to 9 hours for 8 consecutive days, yielding an estimated cumulative dexamethasone dose of 6.4 μg/kg of body weight. Serum and urine samples were obtained before the first dexamethasone treatment, on days 4 and 8 of treatment, and 24, 48, and 96 hours after cessation of treatment. To detect small concentrations of dexamethasone, serum and urine samples were analyzed by use of a competitive enzyme immunoassay.


During the period of continued topical treatment, serum dexamethasone concentrations increased to between 0.10 and 0.49 ng/ml, then decreased below the limit of detection (0.06 ng/ml) within 24 hours after cessation of treatment. Dexamethasone also was detected in urine samples at concentrations of up to 0.98 ng/ml.


Repeated topical administration of dexamethasone ophthalmic ointment generated low, but detectable glucocorticoid concentrations in serum and urine.

Clinical Relevance

Because treatment of performance horses with dexamethasone is prohibited for most types of competitions and because enhanced glucocorticoid detection methods may result in positive test results, owners and trainers may wish to reconsider entering horses in competitions during periods of treatment with ophthalmic dexamethasone preparations. (Am J Vet Res 1999;60:571–576)

Free access
in American Journal of Veterinary Research


Microcystin and related toxic peptides produced by cyanobacteria (blue-green algae) are potent and selective inhibitors of protein phosphatases 1 and 2A. We adapted existing enzymatic techniques to analyze the liver of rainbow trout after oral administration of hepatotoxic cyanobacteria. Liver tissue was removed 3 and 12 hours after treatment, and phosphatase activity was determined in liver extracts, using a specific phosphoprotein substrate. In all samples from fish exposed to toxic cyanobacteria, phosphatase activity was suppressed, whereas the control enzyme, lactate dehydrogenase, present in the same liver extract, was not affected by cyanobacteria. Thus, experimental poisoning by hepatotoxic cyanobacteria resulted in an abnormally low ratio of phosphatase to lactate dehydrogenase activity in the liver extracts. These results indicate that specific inhibition of phosphatases 1 and 2A may provide a useful diagnostic tool to determine the early effects of cyanobacteria toxic peptides directly in liver samples from poisoned animals. Although this test was developed with rainbow trout, it should be possible to extend the analysis of liver phosphatase activity to other species, including sheep and cattle, which are frequently affected by hepatotoxic cyanobacteria.

Free access
in American Journal of Veterinary Research