Cortisol urinary metabolites in dogs with hypercortisolism, congestive heart failure, and healthy dogs: pilot investigation

Ester Quilez, Richard K. Burchell, Eric B. Thorstensen, Karin Weidgraaf, Stacey E. Parbhu, Nicolas Lopez-Villalobos, Arnon Gal

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Nonadrenal diseases (NAD), including congestive heart failure (CHF), can affect the conversion of cortisone to cortisol favoring the production of cortisol’s urinary downstream metabolites 5α/5β-tetrahydrocortisol (THF) relative to tetrahydrocortisone (THE). We hypothesized that healthy dogs would have lower urinary levels of cortisol, cortisone, THF, and THE than dogs with hypercortisolism (HC) or CHF, and the latter would have higher urinary levels of THF and lower THE than dogs with HC. Four, 9, and 8 dogs with HC, CHF, and normal health, respectively, were included in a pilot prospective cross-sectional study. A single morning voided urine sample was analyzed for urinary cortisol metabolites by liquid chromatography–mass spectrometry. The percentages of conjugated urinary metabolites were significantly higher in dogs with CHF than in healthy dogs (p = 0.001), and not different in HC dogs (p = 0.07). Log-transformed urine cortisol metabolites–to–creatinine ratios in healthy dogs were significantly lower than the 2 other groups (p < 0.001). The urinary free THE:THF ratio was significantly higher (p < 0.001) than the urinary total and conjugated THE:THF ratios. Health status did not affect the total, conjugated, and free THE:THF ratios (p = 0.61). Additional studies are needed to investigate differences in cortisol metabolites between dogs with HC and NAD to accurately discriminate between the groups.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)317-323
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Veterinary Diagnostic Investigation
Issue number2
StatePublished - Mar 1 2020


  • 11β-hydroxysteroid dehydrogenase 1
  • 5α/5β-tetrahydrocortisol
  • Cushing disease
  • canine
  • dogs
  • liquid chromatography–mass spectrometry
  • tetrahydrocortisone

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • veterinary(all)

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