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Detection of endogenous cortisol in equine tears and blood at rest and after simulated stress

Authors

  • Caroline S. Monk,

    1. College of Veterinary Medicine, University of Georgia, Athens, GA, USA
    Current affiliation:
    1. University of Florida College of Veterinary Medicine, Gainesville, FL, USA
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  • Kelsey A. Hart,

    1. Department of Large Animal Medicine and Surgery, College of Veterinary Medicine, University of Georgia, Athens, GA, USA
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  • Roy D. Berghaus,

    1. Department of Population Health, College of Veterinary Medicine, University of Georgia, Athens, GA, USA
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  • Natalie A. Norton,

    1. Department of Large Animal Medicine and Surgery, College of Veterinary Medicine, University of Georgia, Athens, GA, USA
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  • Phillip A. Moore,

    1. Department of Small Animal Medicine and Surgery, College of Veterinary Medicine, University of Georgia, Athens, GA, USA
    Current affiliation:
    1. Department of Clinical Science College of Veterinary Medicine, Auburn University Auburn, AL, USA
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  • Kathern E. Myrna

    Corresponding author
    1. Department of Small Animal Medicine and Surgery, College of Veterinary Medicine, University of Georgia, Athens, GA, USA
    • Address communications to:

      K. E. Myrna

      Tel.: 706-206-7584

      Fax: 706-542-6460

      e-mail: kmyrna@uga.edu

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Abstract

Objective

To determine whether cortisol is present in equine tears at rest and during simulated stress and compare tear cortisol to serum free and total cortisol.

Materials and methods

Fourteen healthy adult horses were included. Paired tear total cortisol and serum total and free cortisol concentrations were measured with ELISA, chemiluminescent immunoassay, and ultrafiltration methodology, respectively, in 10 horses at rest once daily for five consecutive days. In an additional four horses, paired tear and serum samples were collected for cortisol measurement before and after adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH) stimulation (cosyntropin, 1 μg/kg IV).

Results

Cortisol was detectable in equine tears at rest. Following ACTH stimulation, tear cortisol increased significantly from baseline at 60–120 min (P ≤ 0.001). Serum total and free cortisol also increased significantly at 30–180 min after ACTH stimulation (P ≤ 0.001). Both serum and tear cortisol returned to baseline concentrations by 360 min. Changes in tear cortisol were similarly associated with changes in serum total and free cortisol, although high tear cortisol concentrations suggest a portion of tear cortisol may be protein-bound.

Discussion

Cortisol is present in equine tears and increases in concert with serum cortisol following ACTH stimulation. Further study is needed to determine whether endogenous cortisol in tears contributes to ocular pathology.

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