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A study of cortisol and beta-endorphin levels in stereotypic and normal Thoroughbreds

By S. M. Pell, P. D. McGreevy

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Abstract

Plasma and salivary cortisol levels were measured in stereotypic (n=46) and normal horses (n=46). No significant differences were found between the 2 groups of horses. The correlation between plasma and salivary cortisol concentrations of individual horses (n=66) was also examined. A significant correlation between plasma and salivary cortisol levels was found only in horses with an oral stereotypy (crib biting or wind sucking). Plasma beta-endorphin (BE) levels were compared between horses with an oral stereotypy (n=17) and normal horses (n=17). Mean plasma BE levels did not differ significantly between the 2 groups. Endogenous opioids are thought to facilitate stereotypic behaviour, and a hereditary component to stereotypic behaviour has been previously observed, suggesting that stereotypic horses have inherited opioid receptors with a greater sensitivity than those of normal horses.

Date 1999
Publication Title Applied Animal Behaviour Science
Volume 64
Issue 2
Pages 81-90
ISBN/ISSN 0168-1591
DOI 10.1016/S0168-1591(99)00029-5
Language English
Author Address Department of Animal Science, University of Sydney, Sydney, NSW, 2006, Australia.
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Tags
  1. Abnormal behavior
  2. Animal behavior
  3. Animal diseases
  4. Animal physiology
  5. Animal roles
  6. Behavior and behavior mechanisms
  7. Blood
  8. Cortisol
  9. Deviant behavior
  10. Endorphins
  11. Horses
  12. Hydrocortisone
  13. Mammals
  14. physiology
  15. saliva
  16. Stress
  17. Vices