• Open Access

Use of the Cortisol-to-ACTH Ratio for Diagnosis of Primary Hypoadrenocorticism in Dogs

Authors

  • P. Lathan,

    Corresponding author
    1. Department of Clinical Sciences, Mississippi State University of Veterinary Medicine, Mississippi State, Mississippi
    • Corresponding Author: Patty Lathan, VMD, MS, DACVIM, P.O. Box 6100, Mississippi State, MS 39759; e-mail: lathan@cvm.msstate.edu

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  • J.C. Scott-Moncrieff,

    1. Department of Veterinary Clinical Sciences, Purdue University College of Veterinary Medicine, W. Lafayette, Indiana
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  • R.W. Wills

    1. Department of Pathobiology and Population Medicine, Mississippi State University of Veterinary Medicine, Mississippi State, Mississippi
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  • This study was performed at the Purdue University Veterinary Teaching Hospital.

Abstract

Background

The ACTH stimulation test is currently required for definitive diagnosis of hypoadrenocorticism. Increased cost of synthetic ACTH (cosyntropin) has prompted a search for alternative diagnostic methods.

Objective

The purpose of this study was to determine whether a cortisol-to-ACTH ratio (CAR) can be used to differentiate dogs with hypoadrenocorticism from normal dogs and those with nonadrenal illness.

Animals

Eight healthy dogs (H), 19 dogs with nonadrenal illness (NAI), and 15 dogs with hypoadrenocorticism (HAD).

Methods

Dogs in the HAD group were retrospectively identified from PUVTH medical records. The NAI group consisted of hospitalized dogs with clinical signs, clinicopathologic findings, or both, consistent with a diagnosis of hypoadrenocorticism, but in which hypoadrenocorticism was ruled out based on ACTH stimulation test results. Healthy dogs were recruited from hospital staff and students. Endogenous ACTH concentrations and cortisol concentrations before and after ACTH stimulation were measured in all dogs.

Results

Baseline cortisol concentration was significantly lower, and ACTH concentration was significantly higher, in the HAD group versus the H and NAI group (P < .001). However, there was overlap among groups. Cortisol-to-ACTH ratio was significantly lower in the HAD group versus the H and NAI groups (P < .001), and there was no overlap between the HAD group and the other 2 groups.

Conclusions and Clinical Importance

CAR can be used for definitive diagnosis of primary hypoadrenocorticism.

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