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Res Vet Sci. 2011 Jun;90(3):491-7. doi: 10.1016/j.rvsc.2010.06.026. Epub 2010 Jul 27.

Influence of topical dexamethasone applications on insulin, glucose, thyroid hormone and cortisol levels in dogs.

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Institute of Physiological Chemistry, Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, University of Leipzig, An den Tierkliniken 15, D-04103 Leipzig, Germany.


The influence of two topical dexamethasone applications (dermal and ototopical) on plasma insulin, glucose, thyroid hormone and cortisol levels was investigated in beagle dogs. Both treatments significantly decreased basal cortisol values, associated with exaggerated rise in insulin (approximately 50%), together with unchanged serum glucose levels. Dermal dexamethasone quickly decreased plasma thyroxin (T4) levels; whereas dexamethasone in ear drops gradually inhibited time-dependently T4 release (18-50%). Both formulations blunted plasma triiodothyronine (T3) levels but the response induced by dermal dexamethasone was stronger than by dexamethasone ear drops. Upon drug withdrawal, insulin secretion returned to baseline a week after treatment cessation, while cortisol, T4 and T3 levels did not reach baseline values. These results suggest that topical glucocorticoids unexpectedly trigger secondary hypothyroidism with concomitant suppression of hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis but sensitize the endocrine pancreas, thus, their application needs careful evaluation for surprisingly different effects on endocrine stress axis activity.

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