The effectiveness of vasopressin as an ACTH secretagogue in cattle differs with temperament. Academic Article uri icon


  • By using the temperament selection criterion of exit velocity (EV), cattle typically exhibiting hypercortisolism and a blunted response to exogenous corticotrophin-releasing hormone (CRH) can be identified via individual behavioral responses to handling. To further characterize hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis dysfunction associated with bovine temperament, the present study compared pituitary and adrenal activity, following stimulation with exogenous vasopressin (VP), in steers with an excitable or calm temperament. Serial blood samples were collected via indwelling jugular cannula for 6h preceding and 6h following administration of a VP bolus. Plasma concentrations of adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH) and cortisol were quantified by RIA to determine pituitary and adrenal responsiveness within temperament groups. Cortisol concentrations in excitable steers during the pre-challenge period revealed an increased initial adrenal reactivity to interactions with humans. Subsequent acclimation to the experimental surroundings yielded greater baseline cortisol concentrations in the cattle with an excitable temperament. Pituitary stimulation with VP resulted in a greater ACTH output from the excitable compared to the calm animals. The data presented herein provide additional evidence that HPA axis function in cattle of an excitable temperament may be akin to a state of chronic stress. The bovine temperament model may be of further use to both decipher mechanisms associated with HPA dysfunction and to elucidate physiological phenotypes or pathologies that have parallels in other species.

published proceedings

  • Physiol Behav

author list (cited authors)

  • Curley, K. O., Neuendorff, D. A., Lewis, A. W., Rouquette, F. M., Randel, R. D., & Welsh, T. H.

citation count

  • 8

complete list of authors

  • Curley, Kevin O||Neuendorff, Don A||Lewis, Andrew W||Rouquette, FM||Randel, Ronald D||Welsh, Thomas H

publication date

  • January 2010