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J Endocrinol. 2006 Sep;190(3):601-9.

Plasma profiles of adrenocorticotropic hormone, cortisol, alpha-melanocyte-stimulating hormone, and growth hormone in dogs with pituitary-dependent hyperadrenocorticism before and after hypophysectomy.

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  • 1Department of Clinical Sciences of Companion Animals, Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, Utrecht University, Yalelaan 8, PO Box 80.154, NL-3508 TD Utrecht, The Netherlands.


The 6-h plasma profiles of adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH), cortisol, alpha-melanocyte-stimulating hormone (alpha-MSH), and GH were studied in 17 dogs with pituitary-dependent hyperadrenocorticism (PDH) before and after hypophysectomy. The aim of the study was to investigate the relation between the hormone profile characteristics and recurrence of PDH after surgery. The hormones were secreted in a pulsatile fashion. The basal plasma cortisol concentration and area under the curve (AUC) for cortisol were significantly higher in the PDH cases than in eight controls. The characteristics of the plasma profiles of ACTH and alpha-MSH were not significantly different between the PDH cases and the controls. In the PDH cases, less GH was secreted in pulses than in the controls, but the difference was not significant. The basal plasma cortisol concentration, the AUC for ACTH and cortisol, and the pulse frequency of ACTH and cortisol decreased significantly after hypophysectomy for the group of PDH cases. The basal plasma concentrations of ACTH and alpha-MSH, the AUC for alpha-MSH, and the characteristics of the plasma GH profiles of the PDH cases remained unchanged after hypophysectomy. No pulses of alpha-MSH were observed after hypophysectomy. The co-occurrence between the ACTH and cortisol pulses decreased significantly with hypophysectomy. The postoperative pulse frequency of ACTH was the only characteristic with predictive value for the recurrence of PDH after hypophysectomy. The results of this study demonstrate that ACTH, cortisol, alpha-MSH, and GH are secreted in a pulsatile fashion in dogs with PDH. Hypophysectomy effectively reduces the secretion of ACTH and cortisol. The presence of ACTH pulses after hypophysectomy is a risk factor for the recurrence of hyperadrenocorticism.

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