Objective—To compare the effects of IV administration of various doses of ovine corticotrophin–releasing hormone (oCRH) on plasma and saliva cortisol concentrations in healthy horses and determine whether an oCRH challenge test protocol is valid for use in adult horses.
Animals—24 healthy Warmblood horses.
Procedures—Each horse received oCRH in saline (0.9% NaCl) via IV administration at a dose of 0 (control treatment), 0.01, 0.1, or 1.0 Mg/kg (6 horses/group). Jugular blood and saliva samples were collected simultaneously 15 minutes before and immediately prior to injection (baseline); data from these samples were pooled to provide basal values. Subsequently, 14 postinjection blood and saliva samples were both collected within a 210-minute period. Cortisol concentrations in all samples were assessed via a solid-phase radioimmunoassay.
Results—All doses of oCRH induced significant increases from baseline in both plasma and salivary cortisol concentrations. Compared with the smaller doses of oCRH, the 1.0 Mg/kg dose of oCRH induced significantly greater plasma cortisol concentrations. A relationship (r = 0.518) between basal cortisol concentrations in plasma and saliva was detected.
Conclusions and Clinical Relevance—For use as a CRH challenge test in adult horses, a protocol involving IV administration of a dose of at least 0.01 Mg of oCRH/kg and postinjection collection of blood samples from 10 to 180 minutes and saliva samples from 20 to 50 minutes for assessment of plasma and saliva cortisol concentrations should be sufficient. Application of such a test might be helpful to detect states of chronic activation of the hypothalamo-pituitary-adrenocortical axis at the hypothalamic level.