Domestic animal endocrinology

Neonatal glucocorticoid overexposure programs pituitary-adrenal function in ponies.

PMID 25240233


The present study tested the hypothesis that overexposure to endogenous glucocorticoids in neonatal life alters the reactivity of the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis in ponies at 1 and 2xa0yr of age. Newborn foals received saline (0.9% NaCl, n = 8, control) or long-acting adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH1-24) (Depot Synacthen 0.125xa0mg intramuscularly twice daily, n = 9) for 5xa0d after birth to raise cortisol concentrations 5- to 6-fold. At 1 and 2xa0yr of age, HPA axis function was assessed by bolus administration of short-acting ACTH1-24 (1xa0μg/kg intravenous) and insulin (0.5 U/kg intravenous) to induce hypoglycemic on separate days. Arterial blood samples were taken at 5 to 30-min intervals before and after drug administration to measure plasma ACTH and/or cortisol concentrations. There were no differences in the basal plasma ACTH or cortisol concentrations or in the cortisol response to exogenous ACTH1-24 with neonatal treatment or age. At 1 and 2xa0yr of age, the increment in plasma ACTH but not cortisol at 60xa0min in response to insulin-induced hypoglycemia was greater in ponies treated neonatally with ACTH than saline (P < 0.05). Neonatal cortisol overexposure induced by neonatal ACTH treatment, therefore, alters functioning of the HPA axis in adult ponies.