OBJECTIVE: To determine the effects of levothyroxine sodium (L-T4) on serum concentrations of thyroid gland hormones and responses to injections of thyrotropin-releasing hormone (TRH) in euthyroid horses. ANIMALS: 12 healthy adult mares. PROCEDURE: 8 horses received an incrementally increasing dosage of L-T4 (24, 48, 72, or 96 mg of L-T4/d) for weeks 1 to 8. Each dose was provided for 2 weeks. Four additional horses remained untreated. Serum concentrations of total triiodothyronine (tT3), total thyroxine (tT4), free T3 (fT3), free T4 (fT4), and thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH) were measured in samples obtained at weeks 0, 2, 4, 6, and 8; 1.2 mg of TRH was then administered i.v., and serum concentrations of thyroid gland hormones were measured 2 and 4 hours after injection. Serum reverseT3 (rT3) concentration was also measured in the samples collected at weeks 0 and 8. RESULTS: Treated horses lost a significant amount of weight (median, 19 kg). Significant treatment-by-time effects were detected for serum tT3, tT4, fT3, fT4, and TSH concentrations, and serum tT4 concentrations were positively correlated (r, 0.95) with time (and therefore dosage) in treated horses. Mean +/- SD serum rT3 concentration significantly increased in treated horses (3.06 +/- 0.51 nmol/L for week 8 vs 0.74 +/- 0.22 nmol/L for week 0). Serum tT3, tT4, fT3, and TSH concentrations in response to TRH injections differed significantly between treated and untreated horses. CONCLUSIONS AND CLINICAL RELEVANCE: Administration of levothyroxine sodium increased serum tT4 concentrations and blunted responses toTRH injection in healthy euthyroid horses.
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