EQUINE CUSHINGS DISEASE
The scientific name for EQUINE CUSHINGS DISEASE is Pituitary Pars Intermedia Disease. (PPID for short). From this name, you will see that this involves the pituitary gland. This is a small gland that lives below the brain and is often referred to as the "master gland of the body". As such it produces many hormones that affect other important organs and body systems.
PPID is a slowly progressive degenerative disease of the pituitary gland. It is rare in horses less than 15 years of age, but studies have found a prevalence of about 20% in horses over 20 years of age. There is no breed predilection and the only documented risk factor is advancing age.
A long hair coat that is slow to shed is a classic sign, but other more subtle signs may include, loss of topline muscle, pot belly, abnormal sweating, abnormal fat deposits, LAMINITIS, increased susceptibility to infections, and others. Many horses with PPID also develop INSULIN DYSREGULATION, so we also recommend measuring serum insulin when we test for PPID.
To diagnose PPID, we collect a blood sample to measure a hormone called ADRENOCORTICOTROPIC HORMONE (ACTH)
If the ACTH is elevated it confirms the diagnosis.
We have a treatment for PPID. It is a product called PRASCEND which contains the drug pergolide. It does not "cure" the disease but rather decreases the secretion of ACTH to a normal level and restores the "signals" coming from the pituitary gland to a more normal state. Horses that also have insulin dysregulation will need to be fed appropriately. (see previous page about EQUINE METABOLIC SYNDROME)