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    Hair cortisol concentration (HCC) is being used increasingly to evaluate long-term stress in many mammalian species. Most of the cortisol is assumed to passively diffuse from circulating blood into hair follicles and gradually accumulate in growing hair. However, our research with free-ranging grizzly bears (Ursus arctos) suggests HCC increases significantly within several hours following capture, a time too brief to be explained by this mechanism alone. In this study with captive grizzly bears, we sought to determine if a brief spike in blood cortisol concentration, thus mimicking a single stressful event, would cause an increase in HCC over a 7-day period. To do this, we administered a single intravenous dose (5 μg/kg) of cosyntropin to three captive unanaesthetised adult female grizzly bears on two occasions, during April when hair growth was arrested and during August when hair was growing. In both trials, the cosyntropin caused a two-fold or greater increase in serum cortisol levels within 1 hr but did not appear to influence HCC at 1, 48, and 168 hr following cosyntropin administration. We conclude the cosyntropin-induced cortisol spike was likely insignificant when compared to the adrenocortical response that occurs in free-ranging bears when captured. We suggest further study with a larger sample of captive bears to evaluate the combined effects of anaesthesia and multiple doses of cosyntropin administered over several hours would better simulate the adrenocortical response of free-ranging grizzly bears during capture. © 2021 The Authors Veterinary Medicine and Science Published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd.


    Marc Cattet, David M Janz, Luciene Kapronczai, Joy A Erlenbach, Heiko T Jansen, O Lynne Nelson, Charles T Robbins, Gordon B Stenhouse. Cortisol levels in blood and hair of unanesthetized grizzly bears (Ursus arctos) following intravenous cosyntropin injection. Veterinary medicine and science. 2021 Sep;7(5):2032-2038

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    PMID: 33978314

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