Acute ACTH-induced elevations of circulating cortisol do not affect hair cortisol concentrations in calves

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© 2016 Elsevier Inc. In recent times, the detection of cortisol in hair is intended to be used as an animal-based indicator for the assessment of chronic stress. However, the relationship between the ability to report average values of long-term circulating cortisol concentrations and the sensitivity to acute peaks of cortisol is still unclear. To gain insight into this relationship, 24 Holstein-Friesian bull calves under the same management conditions were used in this study. Two injections of ACTH (at D0 and D7) were administrated to twelve animals with the aim to create two acute increases of serum cortisol concentrations. Blood samples were taken in order to determine the duration of serum cortisol peaks and to confirm a mediated response by the administration of ACTH. Cortisol concentrations from 14-day-old white hair samples collected from forehead and hip were analysed separately by EIA and compared with those from the control group. Serum cortisol analyses revealed an acute increase of cortisol concentrations for approximately three hours after each ACTH administration. Concentrations of hair cortisol from forehead and hip locations showed no differences between ACTH-administrated and control animals. Hair cortisol concentrations from 14-day old samples were not altered by two acute elevations of serum cortisol suggesting that hair cortisol is not masked by short and non-recurrent moments of stress. These results are a step forward in the validation of hair cortisol detection as a robust integrative measure of serum cortisol concentrations from an extended period of time.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)138-142
JournalGeneral and Comparative Endocrinology
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2017


  • ACTH
  • Animal welfare
  • Blood cortisol
  • Bovine
  • Hair cortisol
  • Stress


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