Plasma levels of adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH), cortisol and catecholamines were used to study the role of the sympatho-adrenal system in equine grass sickness. Statistical evaluation determined differences of hormone levels between seven horses with grass sickness (one acute, five subacute and one chronic), six horses with colic (one with laminitis) and 16 control horses before and after mild stress. Plasma levels of the hormones were higher in horses with acute and subacute grass sickness than in the other groups. No differences were detected between horses with colic and stressed control horses but some hormone levels differed between control and colic horses and control horses before and after stress. It is possible that hyperactivation of the sympatho-adrenal system is caused by stress but it is uncertain whether the stress is only a result of the severity of the disease or also plays a role in its aetiology.
- British Veterinary Association. All rights reserved.
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