Below is the next installment of our review of the "top 12 list" of clinical endocrinology research abstracts presented at this year's American College of Veterinary Internal Medicine Forum. As with all of these ACVIM research abstract reviews, I've enlisted the help of Dr. Rhett Nichols, a well-known expert in endocrinology and internal medicine.
In this post, we will review another of these "top 12" abstracts in our adrenal gland selections.
Midence JN, Drobatz KJ, Hess RS. Low Cortisol Concentrations in Well-Regulated Trilostane-Treated Dogs with Hyperadrenocorticism. J Vet Intern Med 2014;28:1032-1033.
Currently there are no clear treatment guidelines for dogs with clinically well-regulated hyperadrenocorticism in which cortisol concentration before and after ACTH stimulation test performed 3–6 hours after trilostane (Vetoryl) administration is < 2.0 μg/dL. The goal of this study was to determine if an ACTH stimulation test performed 9–12 hours after trilostane administration may clarify treatment guidelines.
Ten client-owned dogs were enrolled into this ongoing prospective study if they had clinically well-regulated hyperadrenocorticism and had serum cortisol concentrations < 2.0 μg/dL before (Pre1) and after (Post1) ACTH stimulation performed 3–6 hours following trilostane administration. Dogs then had a second ACTH stimulation test (Pre2 and Post2) performed 9–12 hours after trilostane administration, on the same day they had the first ACTH stimulation test.
Mean (± standard deviation) pre- and post-ACTH stimulation cortisol concentrations were compared using a paired t-test. Mean Pre1 and mean Post1 cortisol concentrations (1.23 ± 0.35 μg/dL and 1.35 ± 0.27 μg/dL, respectively) were significantly lower than mean Pre2 cortisol concentration (2.74 ± 1.18 μg/dL, p = 0.002 each). Mean Post1 cortisol concentration was also significantly lower than mean Post2 cortisol concentration (4.62 ± 2.07 μg/dL, p = 0.006).
These results suggest that in dogs with clinically well-regulated, trilostane treated, hyperadrenocorticism, in which Pre1 and Post1 cortisol concentrations are < 2 μg/dL, a second ACTH stimulation test performed 9–12 hours after treatment may result in significantly higher cortisol concentrations that could support continued trilostane treatment.
Comments— First of all, we were somewhat surprised by the first sentence (introduction) of this abstract stating that there are no clear treatment guidelines for dogs with clinically well-regulated hyperadrenocorticism, in which serum cortisol concentrations before and after ACTH stimulation test performed 3–6 hours after trilostane administration are < 2.0 μg/dL. We thought that that the current recommendations about what action steps to take in such a scenario were already fairly clear (1-5).
For example, in a 2010 chapter on hyperadrenocorticism in dogs published in Ettinger and Feldman's Textbook of Veterinary Internal Medicine: Diseases of the Dog and Cat (2), this issue is addressed rather specifically:
If a dog on SID or BID trilostane is doing clinically well but the serum cortisol values are low (post-ACTH cortisol less than 2 µg/dL), we recommend that one stop the trilostane for 5-7 days and restart treatment at a 25-50% lower dose. Then one should retest after 2 weeks of treatment with the lower dose. If the serum cortisol values remain subnormal on the reduced dosage, the trilostane should be discontinued indefinitely, with repeat ACTH stimulation testing scheduled for 1 month and every 3-6 months thereafter. The trilostane should only be restarted in these dogs if clinical signs of hyperadrenocorticism return and the post-ACTH cortisol becomes high once again.Even in the Vetoryl product drug insert (1), in which the desired cortisol ranges are wider than what we recommend, it states the following:
If the ACTH stimulation test is < 1.45 µg/dL (< 40 nmol/L) and/or if electrolyte imbalances characteristic of hypoadrenocorticism (hyperkalemia and hyponatremia) are found, Vetoryl capsules should be temporarily discontinued until recurrence of clinical signs consistent with hyperadrenocorticism and test results return to normal (1.45-9.1 µg/dL or 40-250 nmol/L). Vetoryl capsules may then be re-introduced at a lower dose.So, at least in our opinion, we have pretty clear monitoring guidelines for what to do when post-ACTH cortisol concentrations are low— we should temporary stop the trilostane completely for 5-7 days, then restart treatment at a 25-50% lower dose (if doing well), and finally, repeat the ACTH stimulation test in 2 weeks. Or we can be more cautious and completely stop and withhold the drug until we prove that cortisol concentrations recover (1-5).
The fact that the low serum cortisol values in the dogs of this study were higher when tested later in the day is not surprising, and indeed is exactly what you might expect in a dog with no clinical signs of hypoadrenocorticism. In healthy dogs, trilostane reaches peak concentrations at 1.5-2 hours and concentrations return to baseline levels after 10-18 hours (1-4). The duration of cortisol suppression appears to vary substantially between dogs with hyperadrenocorticism; however, cortisol concentrations generally remain suppressed for less than 13 hours, which explains the higher cortisol values when tested later in the day.
Yes, we all know that some dogs do very well with low cortisol concentrations at peak trilostane action, but I believe that this could be dangerous. Once a dog is on trilostane, we should worry about safety first and efficacy second. We know that the lower serum cortisol values in these dogs, the greater the chance of hypoadrenocorticism and possibly the greater risk for adrenal necrosis (2-4). If a dog is doing well and basal and post-ACTH cortisol values are < 2 µg/dL, this is too close for comfort, at least if one of our safety goals is to prevent the development of iatrogenic hypoadrenocorticism. In addition, we also know that many dogs treated with trlostane will have a slow decrease in adrenal reserve over time, necessitating a gradual reduction in the daily trilostane dose over time.
Bottom Line— In dogs that develop low cortisol levels on trilostane, the safest action to take is to lower the daily dose, or, if on once daily treatment (as the dogs of this study), divide the total daily dose into BID administration. We do not know what doses were used in the dogs of this study by Midence et al, but we do know that using lower dosages of trilostane and maintaining cortisol values within a more normal range will help prevent hypocortisolism and hopefully will greatly reduce the change of acute adrenal necrosis (8).
- Dechra website. Veteryl product insert.
- Melián CM, Pérez-Alenza D, Peterson ME. Hyperadrenocorticism in dogs. In: Ettinger SJ, Feldman EC, eds. Textbook of Veterinary Internal Medicine: Diseases of the Dog and Cat (Seventh Edition) Philadelphia, Saunders Elsevier, pp 1816-1840, 2010. Seventh ed. Philadelphia: Saunders Elsevier, 2010;1816-1840.
- Ramsey IK. Trilostane in dogs. Vet Clin North Am Small Anim Pract 2010;40:269-283.
- Herrtage ME, Ramsey IK. Canine hyperadrenocorticism. In: Mooney CT, Peterson ME, eds. BSAVA Manual of Canine and Feline Endocrinology. Quedgeley, Gloucester: British Small Animal Veterinary Association; 2012:167-189.
- Griffies JD. Old or new? A comparison of mitotane and trilostane for the management of hyperadrenocorticism. Compend Contin Educ Vet 2013;35:E3.
- Feldman EC. Evaluation of twice-daily lower-dose trilostane treatment administered orally in dogs with naturally occurring hyperadrenocorticism. J Am Vet Med Assoc 2011;238:1441-1451.
- Arenas C, Melian C, Perez-Alenza MD. Evaluation of 2 trilostane protocols for the treatment of canine pituitary-dependent hyperadrenocorticism: twice daily versus once daily. J Vet Intern Med 2013;27:1478-1485.
- Reusch CE, Sieber-Ruckstuhl N, Wenger M, et al. Histological evaluation of the adrenal glands of seven dogs with hyperadrenocorticism treated with trilostane. Vet Rec 2007;160:219-224.