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  • Author or Editor: David H. Gribble x
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Summary

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