Objective—To determine plasma concentrations of adrenocorticotrophic hormone (ACTH) and α-melanocyte stimulating-hormone (α-MSH) in healthyferrets and ferrets with hyperadrenocorticism.
Animals—16 healthy, neutered, privately owned ferrets, 28 healthy laboratory ferrets (21 sexually intact and 7 neutered), and 28 ferrets with hyperadrenocorticism.
Procedures—Healthy ferrets were used for determination of reference plasma concentrations of ACTH and α-MSH. Diagnosis of hyperadrenocorticism was made on the basis of history, clinical signs, urinary corticoid-to-creatinine ratios, ultrasonography of the adrenal glands, and macroscopic or microscopic evaluation of the adrenal glands. Blood samples were collected during isoflurane anesthesia. Plasma concentrations of ACTH and α-MSH were measured by radioimmunoassay.
Results—Plasma concentrations of ACTH in 23 healthy neutered ferrets during the breeding season ranged from 4 to 145 ng/L (median, 50 ng/L). Plasma concentrations of α-MSH in 44 healthy neutered or sexually intact ferrets during the breeding season ranged from < 5 to 617 ng/L (median, 37 ng/L). Reference values (the central 95% of the values) for ACTH and α-MSH were 13 to 100 ng/L and 8 to 180 ng/L, respectively. Plasma concentrations of ACTH and α-MSH in ferrets with hyperadrenocorticism ranged from 1 to 265 ng/L (median, 45 ng/L) and 10 to 148 ng/L (median, 46 ng/L), respectively. These values were not significantly different from those of healthy ferrets. Plasma ACTH concentrations of sexually intact female ferrets in estrus were significantly higher than those of neutered females.
Conclusions and Clinical Relevance—Ferrets with hyperadrenocorticism did not have detectable abnormalities in plasma concentrations of ACTH or α-MSH. The findings suggest that hyperadrenocorticism in ferrets is an ACTH and α-MSH-independent condition.—(Am J Vet Res 2002;63:1395–1399)