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Am J Vet Res. 2008 Jan;69(1):68-75. doi: 10.2460/ajvr.69.1.68.

Effects of long-term oral administration of levothyroxine sodium on serum thyroid hormone concentrations, clinicopathologic variables, and echocardiographic measurements in healthy adult horses.

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Department of Large Animal Clinical Sciences, College of Veterinary Medicine, University of Tennessee, Knoxville, TN 37996, USA.



To determine the effects of long-term oral levothyroxine sodium (L-T(4)) administration on serum thyroid hormone concentrations, thyroid gland function, clinicopathologic variables, and echocardiographic examination measurements in adult euthyroid horses.


6 healthy adult mares.


Horses received L-T(4) (48 mg/d) orally for 48 weeks. Every 4 weeks, physical examinations were performed; blood samples were collected for CBC, plasma biochemical analyses, and assessments of serum total triiodothyronine (tT(3)) and thyroxine (tT(4)) concentrations. Plasma creatine kinase MB activity and cardiac troponin I concentration were also measured. Echocardiographic examinations were performed before and at 16, 32, and 48 weeks during the treatment period.


During the treatment period, mean body weight decreased significantly; heart rate varied significantly, but the pattern of variation was not consistent. Significant time effects were detected for certain clinicopathologic variables, but mean values remained within reference ranges. Cardiac troponin I was only detectable in 8 of 24 plasma samples (concentration range, 0.01 to 0.03 ng/mL). Serum creatine kinase MB activity did not change significantly over time. Compared with the pretreatment value, 5.4-, 4.0-, and 3.7-fold increases in mean serum tT(4) concentrations were detected at 16, 32, and 48 weeks, respectively. Some cardiac measurements changed significantly over time, but mean values remained within published reference ranges. Mean fractional shortening was lower than the pretreatment mean value at 16 and 32 weeks.


In horses, long-term oral administration of 48 mg of L-T(4)/d significantly increased serum tT(4) concentrations and did not appear to adversely affect health.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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