Prevalence of PPID
Pituitary pars intermedia dysfunction (PPID) is the most common disease of the endocrine system affecting horses and ponies.1 Recently conducted studies suggest that PPID is more common than previously thought. One in 7 horses or ponies 15 years of age or older has PPID.2 In aged horses, researchers have found the prevalence to be as high as 30%.3Although generally associated with geriatric horses, PPID has been diagnosed in horses as young as 4 years of age.4 Both genders and all breeds are equally susceptible.5-7
PPID is now recognized as one of the more common conditions that challenge equine owners who want to keep their horses active and healthy into their 20s and 30s. By raising awareness of clinical signs of disease and implementing the latest diagnosis and treatment protocols, we have the opportunity to help both our equine patients and their devoted owners.
Identifying early clinical signs
One of your biggest challenges with PPID is to increase awareness among horse-owning clients of the early, hard to spot, clinical signs. Diagnosing PPID as early as possible is a critical step, because it gives owners the option to begin treatment programs before clinical signs reach advanced stages.
Horse owners often fail to recognize the early signs of PPID and assume that their horse is going through the normal aging process. If you treat a horse with one or more of the following conditions, it is likely that they are experiencing early signs of PPID.
- Hirsutism (hypertrichosis)
- Muscle wasting
- Weight loss
- Abnormal sweating
- Abnormal fat distribution
- Excessive thirst
- Weight loss
- Polyuria/polydispsia (PU/PD)
Science behind PPID and PRASCEND® (pergolide mesylate)
The intermediate lobe of the pituitary gland (pars intermedia) is affected in PPID. Hormones produced in the intermediate lobe include alpha melanocyte-stimulating hormone (alpha-MSH), beta endorphin, and adrenocorticotropin hormone (ACTH). In the healthy horse, the production of hormones from the intermediate lobe is inhibited by dopamine. Dopamine binds with a receptor and then inhibits the production and release of the hormones.
In the healthy horse, there is enough dopamine available to keep hormone production at a low, baseline level. A horse with PPID does not produce enough dopamine. The end result may be a much greater immunosuppressive level of the hormone cortisol, as compared to a healthy horse. The intermediate lobe of the pituitary gland becomes grossly enlarged, up to 2 to 5 times its normal size, which further compresses the other lobes.3
PRASCEND mimics natural dopamine, acting to replace the reduced levels of dopamine in horses with PPID. By binding to the dopamine receptor, it decreases the secretion of hormones. Horses treated with PRASCEND show improvement in signs of disease, such as improved hair coat, muscle mass, and attitude.8 See the How it works video below for more details.
Watch a video featuring a leading veterinarian discussing the science of PPID and the mechanism of action for PRASCEND.