Plasma prolactin, thyroid-stimulating hormone, melanocyte-stimulating hormone, and adrenocorticotropin responses to thyrotropin-releasing hormone in mares treated with detomidine and butorphanol

Document Type


Publication Date



© 2020 Elsevier Inc. Stress or excitement is a concern when performing endocrine tests on fractious horses. Sedation may be a solution; however, perturbation of test results may preclude useful information. Thyrotropin-releasing hormone (TRH) is a known stimulator of prolactin, thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH), melanocyte-stimulating hormone (MSH), and ACTH. Thyrotropin-releasing hormone–induced ACTH is a diagnostic tool for the assessment of endocrinopathies such as pituitary pars intermedia dysfunction. It is unknown if drugs commonly used for sedation alter endocrine responses. The objective of this study was to assess the effects of detomidine (DET) and butorphanol on endocrine responses to TRH. Nine light horse mares were used in a replicated 3 × 3 Latin square with the following treatments: saline, DET, and detomidine + butorphanol (DET/BUT), all administered intravenously at 0.01 mg/kg BW. A 1-wk washout period was allowed between phases, all of which were performed in December. Blood samples were collected at −10 and 0 min before treatment and 5 and 10 min post-treatment. Administration of 1 mg TRH occurred 10 min post-treatment, and blood sampling continued 5, 10, 20, and 30 min post-TRH. Data were analyzed by ANOVA as a replicated Latin square with repeated sampling. Plasma prolactin increased (P < 0.0001) after TRH in all groups, rapidly peaking at 5 min in drug-treated mares and 40 min in saline-treated mares. The peak prolactin response to TRH was 2-fold higher (P < 0.0001) in saline-treated mares compared with those drug-treated. A peak rise in plasma TSH was observed in DET/BUT-treated mares 10 min after TSH and was greater (P ≤ 0.007) compared with DET- and saline-treated mares. Plasma MSH was stimulated (P = 0.001) by DET and DET/BUT before TRH, and the peak MSH response to TRH was greater (P < 0.0001) in drug-treated mares, although not hastened as observed with prolactin and TSH. A peak rise in ACTH was observed in drug-treated mares 5 min after administration of TRH, whereas a peak rise was observed in control mares 10 min post-TRH and was almost 2-fold lower (P = 0.05) than the peak observed in DET and DET/BUT-treated mares. Basal ACTH concentrations were not affected by DET or DET/BUT, indicating that sedation with these compounds may be achieved when needing to measure basal plasma ACTH. Treatment with DET and DET/BUT did alter the prolactin, TSH, MSH, and ACTH responses to TRH; therefore, the use of these drugs may not be advisable when assessing endocrine responses to TRH stimulation.

Publication Source (Journal or Book title)

Domestic Animal Endocrinology

This document is currently not available here.