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Equine Vet J. 2012 Jul;44(4):440-3. doi: 10.1111/j.2042-3306.2011.00444.x. Epub 2011 Aug 18.

Circannual variation in plasma adrenocorticotropic hormone concentrations in the UK in normal horses and ponies, and those with pituitary pars intermedia dysfunction.

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  • 1The Liphook Equine Hospital, Hampshire, UK. v.copas@theleh.co.uk



Pituitary pars intermedia dysfunction (PPID) is a common endocrinopathy, frequently diagnosed via plasma adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH) concentrations. Seasonal variation in plasma ACTH concentrations has been described in normal horses prompting caution in diagnosing PPID at certain times of the year. The aims of this study were to determine appropriate reference intervals for equine plasma ACTH throughout the year; and to examine the circannual variation of plasma ACTH concentrations in PPID cases.


Plasma ACTH can be used as a test for PPID throughout the year with the use of appropriate reference intervals.


Data for reference interval calculations were obtained from samples collected from inpatients of Liphook Equine Hospital (non-PPID group, n=156). Data from PPID cases (n=941) were obtained from samples submitted to the Liphook Equine Hospital Laboratory from horses with a clinical suspicion of PPID found to have plasma ACTH concentrations greater than our upper reference interval for that time of year.


Upper limits for reference interval of plasma ACTH were 29 pg/ml between November and July and 47 pg/ml between August and October. Circannual variation in plasma ACTH occurred in both non-PPID and PPID horses with the highest ACTH concentrations found between August and October in both groups (P<0.0001). The greatest difference between the 2 populations also occurred between August and October.


Plasma ACTH can be used for the diagnosis and monitoring of PPID throughout the year with the use of appropriate reference intervals. These findings demonstrate an increase in pituitary gland secretory activity during the late summer and autumn in both normal and PPID cases.

© 2011 EVJ Ltd.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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