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  • Author or Editor: Noel O. Dybdal x
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Pituitary neoplasm was identified in 43 dogs with pituitary-dependent hyperadrenocorticism via necropsy (n = 33), diagnostic imaging with computerized tomography or magnetic resonance imaging (n = 5), or diagnostic imaging and necropsy (n = 5). All dogs had clinical signs and clinicopathologic test results typical of hyperadrenocorticism. Thirty-seven dogs had grossly visible pituitary tumors, and 6 dogs had microscopic pituitary tumors. Fifteen dogs had developed neurologic signs typical of those resulting from an enlarging pituitary mass. Twenty-three dogs had pituitary tumors ≥ 1 cm in diameter. Provocative testing of the pituitary-adrenocortical axis was performed on all dogs.

Dogs with grossly visible pituitary tumors and dogs with neurologic signs had Significantly (P < 0.05) higher mean plasma endogenous acth concentrations, compared with values from dogs with microscopic tumors and dogs without neurologic signs, respectively. Dogs with grossly visible pituitary tumors and dogs with tumors ≥ 1 cm in diameter had Significantly (P < 0.05) lower adrenocortical responsiveness to exogenous acth, compared with dogs with microscopic pituitary tumors and dogs with tumors < 1 cm in diameter, respectively. Despite these differences, there was overlap between test results among dogs. On the basis of endocrine test results, it would appear difficult to distinguish dogs with pituitary-dependent hyperadrenocorticism and large pituitary tumors from those with pituitary-dependent hyperadrenocorticism and microscopic pituitary tumors prior to onset of neurologic signs.

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in Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association


Pituitary pars intermedia dysfunction is a slowly progressive disorder that afflicts most breeds of horses. Because it shares features with human Cushing disease, it has been referred to as equine Cushing disease. A variety of tests of pituitary-adrenocortical function were performed on horses with evidence of pituitary pars intermedia dysfunction, and results were compared with those in healthy control horses. Diurnal variations in plasma cortisol concentration were not statistically different between control horses and those with pituitary pars intermedia dysfunction. An ACTH stimulation (1 U of natural ACTH gel/kg of body weight, IM) test or a combined dexamethasone suppression test (10 mg, IM) and ACTH stimulation (100 mg of synthetic ACTH, IV) test also failed to distinguish horses with pituitary pars intermedia dysfunction from control horses. A significant (P < 0.001) dose-related suppression of cortisol concentration in response to increasing doses (5, 10, 20, and 40 μg/kg) of dexamethasone was observed in control horses but not in those with pituitary pars intermedia dysfunction. On the basis of plasma cortisol concentration, the dexamethasone suppression test, using 40 μg/kg, whether initiated at 5 PM with sample collection at 15 (8 AM) and 19 (12 PM) hours after dexamethasone administration, or initiated at 12 AM with sample collection at 8 (8 AM), 12 (12 PM), 16 (4 PM), 20 (8 PM), and 24 (12 AM) hours after dexamethasone administration, reliably distinguished between control horses and those with pituitary pars intermedia dysfunction. Several horses did not have clinical evidence of pituitary pars intermedia dysfunction, but did have abnormal dexamethasone suppression test results. In these horses, adenomatous hypertrophy and hyperplasia of the pars intermedia of the pituitary gland was confirmed at necropsy.

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in Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association


Objective—To evaluate concordance among veterinary pathologists in the assessment of histologic findings in the pars intermedia of pituitary gland sections from aged horses with mild signs suggestive of pituitary pars intermedia dysfunction (PPID).

Sample Population—10 pituitary glands from aged horses.

Procedure—7 pathologists were provided with signalment, clinical signs, and a single H&E-stained pituitary gland section from 10 aged horses with mild signs suggestive of PPID. Pathologists described histologic findings for each section and stated whether findings were consistent with PPID. Agreement among pathologists and with antemortem diagnostic test results was calculated.

Results—Overall, only fair agreement was found among the pathologists as to which horses had histologic findings consistent with disease (mean ± SE kappa value, 0.34 ± 0.069). Interpretation of individual sections varied, with minimal agreement (4 or 5/7 pathologists) for 5 of 10 sections evaluated. Postmortem assessment was in agreement with an antemortem endocrine diagnostic test result 79% of the time.

Conclusions and Clinical Relevance—Validation of antemortem diagnostic testing for PPID in horses often relies on the results of postmortem histologic evaluation. The lack of consensus in histologic interpretation of pituitary glands from aged horses with mild clinical signs in our study indicates that postmortem histologic evaluation of pituitary glands is an inappropriate standard in validation of antemortem diagnostic tests for detection of early PPID. Caution should be used when interpreting diagnostic test results in horses in which early PPID is suspected. (Am J Vet Res 2005;66:2055–2059)

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in American Journal of Veterinary Research