Daily treatment of growing foals with equine somatotropin: Pathologic and endocrinologic assessments at necropsy and residual effects in live animals

K. M. Kulinski, D. L. Thompson, E. L. Capshaw, D. D. French, J. L. Oliver

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This experiment assessed the effects of 12 mo of daily treatment of young horses with recombinant equine somatotropin (eST) on 1) carcass and internal organ traits at necropsy and 2) residual effects in live horses for 60 d after cessation of treatment. Seven horses received eST daily at 20 μg/kg BW; seven others received vehicle (controls). Four horses from each group were killed at the end of treatment. There were few effects of eST treatment on hematologic assessments or histopathologic evaluations of internal organs. Treatment with eST increased the weights of the right adrenal gland (P = 0.090), left (P = 0.085) and right (P = 0.013) kidneys, liver (P = 0.012), tended to inrease the weights of pancreas (P = 0.082), spleen (P = 0.008), and heart (P = 0.102), and decreased (P = 0.032) somatotropin (ST) content in the adenohypophysis. Loin-eye area at the 10th rib was also greater (P = 0.01) in eST-treated horses than in controls. There was no difference (P > 0.15) between groups in left adrenal, brain, parathyroid glands, or thyroid gland weights or in 10th-rib fat thickness. In the remaining two control and three eST-treated horses (one control horse died), plasma IGF-I concentrations were higher (P = 0.001) in treated animals through d 6 after cessation of treatment and then dropped precipitously. Insulin concentrations in treated animals tended to be elevated (P = 0.08) only on d 0. There was a treatment x day interaction (P = 0.04) for plasma urea nitrogen levels, which increased in treated horses. A decrease (P < 0.05) in BW in the treated animals was observed by 21 d after treatment. There was no difference (P > 0.15) in insulin or glucose response to glucose tolerance tests given on d 0 through 60 after cessation of treatment. Overall ST response to secretagogue was reduced (P < 0.05) in eST-treated horses compared with controls. In summary, long-term treatment of growing horses with eST decreased endogenous ST response to secretagogue and increased plasma IGF-I concentrations and many internal organ weights but had little effect on hematologic or histopathologic characteristics at necropsy. The effects on IGF-I concentrations were lost within 6 d, and BW in treated horses decreased within 3 wk after cessation of treatment.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)392-400
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of animal science
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 2002
Externally publishedYes


  • Horses
  • Pathology
  • Pituitary
  • Somatotropin

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Food Science
  • Animal Science and Zoology
  • Genetics


Dive into the research topics of 'Daily treatment of growing foals with equine somatotropin: Pathologic and endocrinologic assessments at necropsy and residual effects in live animals'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this