Adrenocorticotropic hormone stimulation tests in healthy foals from birth to 12 weeks of age.
The purpose of this study was to investigate total baseline plasma cortisol and adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH) concentrations, and ACTH-stimulated cortisol concentrations in foals from birth to 12 wk of age. Plasma (baseline) cortisol and ACTH concentrations were measured in 13 healthy foals at birth and at 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 7, 10, 14, 21, 28, 42, 56, and 84 d of age. Each foal received cosyntropin (0.1 microg/kg) intravenously. Plasma cortisol concentrations were measured before (baseline), and 30, and 60 min after cosyntropin administration at birth and at 3, 5, 7, 10, 14, 21, 28, 42, 56, and 84 d of age. Compared with baseline, cortisol concentration increased significantly 30 min after administration of cosyntropin on all days. Cortisol concentration was highest at birth, measured at 30 and 60 min after cosyntropin administration, compared with all other days. With the exception of birth measurements, cortisol concentration was significantly higher on day 84, measured at 30 and 60 min after cosyntropin administration, when compared with all other days. Baseline plasma ACTH was lowest at birth when compared with concentrations on days 2, 3, 4, 5, 7, 10, 14, 42, 56, and 84. Administration of 0.1 microg/kg of cosyntropin, IV, reliably induces cortisol secretion in healthy foals. Differences in the magnitude of response to cosyntropin are observed depending on the age of the foal. These data should serve as a reference for the ACTH stimulation test in foals and should be useful in subsequent studies to evaluate the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis in healthy and critically ill foals.