Tuesday, November 23, 2021

 Looking for adverse effects of pergolide


Pergolide is widely used in the treatment of PPID (Pituitary Pars Intermedia Dysfunction, or equine Cushing’s disease). The drug is also used in humans, where it has been associated with side effects, involving fibrotic lesions of the atrio-ventricular valves in the heart.


Heidrun Gehlen and colleagues in the Department of Veterinary Medicine, at the Free University of Berlin, conducted a study to see if pergolide causes similar problems in horses. 


Twenty-three horses of various breeds, aged between 19 and 30 years old, were included. All had been diagnosed previously with PPID, based on ACTH (adrenocorticotrophin hormone) concentration.


Twelve horses had been receiving pergolide for between 14 days and 6 years before the start of the study. These comprised the treatment group and continued to receive pergolide. Eleven other horses received no pergolide.


The researchers performed a complete echocardiographic exam on all horses, which showed that they were free of cardiovascular diseases, including the absence of valvular defects. 


Follow up examinations were performed on nine horses in the treatment group and five of the non-treatment group between 3 and 8 months later.


The researchers compared the findings in PPID horses being treated with pergolide with the untreated PPID horses.


They found that treatment with pergolide did not affect the ventricular function nor induce valvular disease. Measurements taken in the follow-up exam did not differ from those taken initially in both groups. None of the 12 pergolide-treated horses developed valvular regurgitation. 


The work is reported in the Journal of Veterinary Science. The authors conclude: “The main result of our small orientation study was that treatment with pergolide of a duration between 3 and 8 months in a horse population with confirmed PPID did not seem to affect the left ventricular function assessed by TDE and STE [tissue Doppler and two-dimensional speckle tracking echocardiography]. Furthermore, none of the horses developed valvular regurgitation in the observation period.”


They add that further studies are needed, with a larger population and longer follow-up period. 


For more details, see:


Preliminary study on the effects of pergolide on left ventricular function in the horses with pituitary pars intermedia dysfunction

Heidrun Gehlen,  Judith Fisch,  Roswitha Merle and Dagmar S. Trachsel

J Vet Sci. 2021 Sep;22(5):e64. 


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