Thursday, May 8, 2008

PPID (aka Cushings)

Traveller's Rest is currently home to three horses and one pony with confirmed diagnoses of PPID, or Pituitary Pars Intermedia Dysfunction (commonly called "Cushing's Disease," or "Cushing's Syndrome.")

Researchers have found that horses with PPID have very few dopamine-producing neurons in the pars intermedia. Since dopamine inhibits the production of hormones by the pars intermediate, its absence allows excess hormone production which leads to the classic symptoms associated with Cushings.

While dietary management and supplements help control symptoms resulting from high insulin levels, and Trilostane can directly inhibit the production of cortisol, only one medication in current use addresses the dopamine deficit, believed to be the root cause of the problems.

That drug is pergolide mesylate, a medication originally prescribed for human Parkinson's patients. Upon diagnosis, all PPID horses at TREES are started on Pergolide.

Below is Oracle, diagnosed with PPID, but not yet started on treatment in this photo:

Freddie, on the other hand, has been on Pergolide for two years:
Symptoms of PPID are many and varied, though not every horse will have every symptom. Some things to watch for:

  • prone to laminitis
  • gains weight easily
  • cresty neck
  • unusual "fat pads"
  • muscle wasting
  • "pot belly"
  • problems with thermoregulation, especially in warm or hot weather
  • abnormally long, curly hair coat, year-round
  • suppressed immune system
  • excessive thirst and urination
  • irritability in a previously good-natured horse
  • occasionally, neurological complications

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