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Research unit
FSVO
Project number
2.17.02
Project title
Development of a „stress test“ in horses (adrenal cortisol response to ACTH) and validation of predictive value for gas-tric ulcers and other stress-induced health problems, particularly in sport horses

Texts for this project

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Key words
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Short description
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Project aims
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Achievement of aims
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Publications / Results
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Inserted texts


CategoryText
Key words
(German)
Stress, Magenulzera, Kortisol, ACTH-Stimulationstest, Pferdekrankheiten, Sport, Wohlbefinden, Tierschutz
Key words
(English)
Stress, gastric ulcers, cortisol, ACTH-stimulation, equine diseases, sport, welfare, animal protection
Short description
(German)
Chronischen Stress zu messen ist eine ungelöste Herausforderung der Pferdemedizin. 70% und mehr Sport- und Rennpferde haben Magenulzera. Die Untersuchung der Kortisolausschüttung mit Hilfe des ACTH-Stimulationstests legt nahe, dass glanduläre Ulzera stress-induziert sind. Allerdings ist der Test für die Praxis zu zeit- und kostenintensiv. Ziel des Gesuchs ist es daher, den besten Zeitpunkt für Kortisolmessungen herauszufinden. Wir werden die Labortests in Kombination mit einem Fragebogen (Erstellen eines Persönlichkeitsprofils) auf ihre Voraussagekraft für Magengeschwüre, Koliken anderer Ursachen und Stereotypien testen, um dann praxistaugliche und objektive Hilfsmittel zur Beurteilung von chronischem Stress beim Pferd zu liefern. Insbesondere auch - aber nicht nur  -  beim Sportpferd wird dies neue Perspektiven in Vollzug und Prävention für die Beurteilungen diverser Management- und Haltungsproblemen (z. B. Sportpferd: Verbesserung von Erholungszeiten; Freizeitpferd: Gruppenhaltungsoptimierung) und die Identifikation von gefährdeten Individuen eröffnen.
Short description
(English)
Assessment of chronic stress is challenging and remains an unsolved problem in equine medicine. 70% and more of sport and race horses have gastric ulcers. The examination of the cortisol release with the ACTH stimulation test suggests that glandular ulcers are stress-induced. However, this test is too time and cost intensive for clinical practice. Therefore, we need to determine the ideal time point to measure cortisol. The laboratory tests combined with a questionnaire survey (establishing a personality profile) will be evaluated for their potential to identify and predict risks for ulcers, other specific colic forms and stereotypies in order to deliver practical, objective tools to assess chronic stress in horses for the first time. Especially valuable for - but not limited  to - high level sports horses, this opens promising and practical perspectives in welfare prevention and enforcement concerning management and sports practices (e. g. sport horse:  improve recovery times; leisure horse: optimisation of groups) and for identification of at-risk individuals.
Project aims
(English)

Currently the ACTH stimulation test is time- and cost-intensive (1 before and 6 every 30 min after injection for 3 h) and thus very impractical. Accordingly, the main objective is to refine the “stress test”, pursuing the following specific goals:

  1. Determine best time point and cut-off to maximise sensitivity and specificity of salivary cortisol values for gastric ulcer risk (main study population of clinical patients presented for gastroscopy).
  2. Establish bound-and free-cortisol measurements in plasma in order to better characterise the exaggerated response in stress-susceptible individuals (increased total cortisol release vs. decreased binding capacity). These ratios of free vs. bound cortisol may also offer an additional diagnostic means to further improve sensitivity and specificity of the test.
  3. Establish a standardised questionnaire by adapting validated questions used by our group and others in order to assess the temperament and behaviour of the affected and healthy horses. The personality profiles will then be compared to the results of the ACTH-challenge test regarding the association with the specific outcome measures reflecting “stress-induced” disorders.
  4. Examine the diagnostic value of the “stress test” (incl. normal values) and the questionnaire-based personality profile for gastric ulcer disease, other colic causes and stereotypic behaviour and to identify chronically stressed individuals.
  5. Validate the suitability of the ACTH-stimulation test specifically for the early detection of chronically stressed sport horses. The goal is to eventually improve sport horse welfare by adapting management of particularly horses in order to optimize recovery times between shows and minimize or prevent gastric ulcers, inappetence/colic or stress-induced subclinical infections.

 

Achievement of aims
(English)

Year

2017

2018

2019

Quarter

1

2

3

4

1

2

3

4

1

2

3

4

Establishing free-/bound-cortisol

X

X

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Statistical comparison of salivary vs. free-/bound-cortisol for diagnostic performance

 

X

X

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Development of questionnaire and comparison with cortisol responses

X

X

X

X

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Data analysis

 

 

X

X

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Scientific writing (first manuscript)

 

 

 

X

X

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sample collection -clinical cases with various colic causes and with stereotypies as well as the sport horse population

 

 

X

X

X

X

X

X

X

 

 

 

Laboratory analyses of samples

 

 

 

 

 

 

X

X

X

 

 

 

Data Analysis

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

X

X

X

X

 

Scientific writing (second and potentially third manuscript)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

X

X

Year

2017

2018

2019

Quarter

1

2

3

4

1

2

3

4

1

2

3

4

Establishing free-/bound-cortisol

X

X

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Statistical comparison of salivary vs. free-/bound-cortisol for diagnostic performance

 

X

X

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Development of questionnaire and comparison with cortisol responses

X

X

X

X

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Data analysis

 

 

X

X

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Scientific writing (first manuscript)

 

 

 

X

X

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sample collection -clinical cases with various colic causes and with stereotypies as well as the sport horse population

 

 

X

X

X

X

X

X

X

 

 

 

Laboratory analyses of samples

 

 

 

 

 

 

X

X

X

 

 

 

Data Analysis

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

X

X

X

X

 

Scientific writing (second and potentially third manuscript)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

X

X

Related documents
Publications / Results
(German)

Posters:

Kirchmaier, A. (2019) Steroidprofile vor und nach ACTH Stimulation bei Pferden. April 10, 2019; Netzwerktagung, Avenches, Switzerland.

Ramseyer, A. and Sauer, F.J. (2018) Magengeschwüre und Stress-Test beim Sportpferd. January 15, 2018. Berner Fortbildungsabend, Avenches, Switzerland.

Lanz, S. and Sauer, F.J. (2018) Magengeschwüre – Was gibt es Neues?. November 10, 2018. Open-House Days – Henry Schein Animal Health, Switzerland.

Sauer, F.J. (2018) Untersuchungen zum Stress bei Hochleistungs- und Amateurpferden. April 19, 2018; 13. Jahrestagung Netzwerk Pferdeforschung, Avenches, Switzerland.

Präsentation:

Sauer, F.J. (2019) Einfluss von Management- und Verhaltensfaktoren auf die Stress Reaktivität von Sportpferden. November 28 – 30, 2019; 51. Internationale Tagung Angewandte Ethologie, Freiburg, Germany.

Publications / Results
(English)

Sauer, F.J.; Gerber, V.; Frei, S.; Bruckmaier, R.M.; Groessl, M. (2020) Salivary cortisol measurement in horses: immunoassay or LC-MS/MS? Domest Anim Endocrinol. 2020 Jul; 72:106445. doi: 10.1016/j.domaniend.2020.106445. Epub 2020 Feb 10, PMID: 32247992.

 

Kirchmeier, A.; van Herwaarden, AE.; van der Kolk, JH.; Sauer, F.J.; Gerber, V.; Plasma steroid profiles before and after ACTH stimulation test in healthy horses.

Domest Anim Endocrinol. 2020 Jul;72:106419. doi: 10.1016/j.domaniend.2019.106419.

Epub 2019 Nov 22. PMID: 31958644.

 

Sauer, F.J.; Hermann, M.; Ramseyer, A.; Burger, D.; Riemer, S.; Gerber, V.; Effects of breed, management and personality on cortisol reactivity in sport horses. PLoS One. 2019 Dec 2;14(12):e0221794. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0221794.

PMID: 31790402; PMCID: PMC6886778.

 

 

Schwinn, A.; Sauer, F.J.; Gerber, V.; Bruckmaier, R.M.; Gross, J.J.; Free and bound cortisol in plasma and saliva during ACTH challenge in dairy cows and horses. J

Anim Sci. 2018 Feb 15;96(1):76-84. doi: 10.1093/jas/skx008. PMID: 29378066;

PMCID: PMC6140936.

Poster: 
Schwinn, A-C. (2017) Binding and distribution of cortisol in bovine and equine saliva and plasma during ACTH challenge. August 28 – September 1, 2017; Annual Meeting of the European Federation of Animal Science (EAAP), Tallinn, Estonia.

 

Sauer, F.J.; Bruckmaier, R.M.; Ramseyer, A.; Vidondo, B.; Scheidegger, M.D.; Gerber, V.;

Diagnostic accuracy of post-ACTH challenge salivary cortisol concentrations for identifying horses with equine glandular gastric disease. J Anim Sci. 2018 Jun

4;96(6):2154-2161. doi: 10.1093/jas/sky074. PMID: 29762691; PMCID: PMC6095231.

Sauer, F.J.; Bruckmaier, R.M.; Ramseyer, A.; Vidondo, B.; Scheidegger, M.D.; Gerber, V. (2018) Diagnostic accuracy of post-ACTH challenge salivary cortisol concentrations for identifying horses with equine glandular gastric disease. Journal of Animal Science. Volume 96, Issue 6, Pages 2154 – 2161.
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6095231/

Sauer, F.J.; Riemer, S.; Ramseyer, A.; Axiak Flammer, S.; Bütikofer, L.; Gerber, V. Assessment of clinical signs, husbandry and personality factors on risk of gastric disease in horses. Submitted for publication: Journal of Veterinary Internal Medicine.

Sauer, F.J.; Hermann, M.; Ramseyer, A.; Burger, D.; Riemer, S. and Gerber, V. (2019). Effects of breed, mananment and personality on cortisol reactivity in sport horses. PloS One. Volume 14, Issue 12, Pages e0221794.
https://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0221794

Kirchmeier, A.; van Herwaarden, A.E.; van der Kolk, J.H.; Sauer, F.J.; Gerber, V. (2019). Plasma steroid profiles before and after ACTH stimulation test in healthy horses. Domestic Animal Endocrinology. Pages 106419

Presentations:

(General) Gerber, V. (2018) Assessment of chronic stress in the horse with a focus on the ACTH-stimulation test. June 14 – 16, 2018; Forum of the American College of Veterinary Internal Medicine, Seattle, USA.

Sauer, F.J. (2017) Optimization of an ACTH challenge test to predict the risk of Equine Glandular Gastric Disease (EGGD) in horses. November 1-5, 2017; 10th Annual European College of Equine Internal Medicine Congress, Budapest, Hungary.

Dissertations:

Sauer, F.J. (2018) Diagnostic accuracy of post-ACTH challenge salivary cortisol concentrations for identifying horses with equine glandular gastric disease. Dr.med.vet.; Vetsuisse Faculty, University Bern.

Kirchmaier, A. In preparation. Plasma steroid profiles before and after ACTH stimulation test in healthy horses. Dr.med.vet.; Vetsuisse Faculty, University Bern.

 

PhD:

Sauer, F.J. In preparation. Assessment of chronic stress in horses and development of a 'stress test' (adrenal cortisol response to ACTH) for stress-induced health problems. Dr.sc.nat.; Vetsuisse Faculty, University Bern.

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