Impact of blue light therapy on plasma adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH) and hypertrichosis in horses with pituitary pars intermedia dysfunction

A. B. Miller, B. A. Murphy, A. A. Adams

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Blue light therapy can be used in horses to alter the natural photoperiod and inhibit winter hair coat growth. Seasonal increases in ACTH occur in the fall season but are exaggerated in horses with pituitary pars intermedia dysfunction (PPID). Additionally, PPID horses frequently present with hypertrichosis. Thus, blue light therapy was proposed as a potential management tool for hypertrichosis and for investigating the impact of photoperiod manipulation on ACTH. Eighteen PPID horses, aged 18 to 31 yr, from a university-owned research herd were selected and assigned to either the control group (n = 10) or the treatment (blue light therapy) group (n = 8) based on age and clinical history, which included the results of multiple endocrine tests. Consistent daylength of approximately 14.5 h was maintained for the treated horses from July 15 through approximately late October via the extension of natural daylength using wearable masks that provided short wavelength blue light (465 nm) to 1 eye. The control group was exposed to only the natural photoperiod during this time. All horses were housed on the same farm and remained on pasture for the duration of the study. On Day 0, thyrotropin-releasing hormone (TRH) stimulation tests were performed to confirm PPID status; there were no differences between the 2 groups in resting plasma ACTH or plasma ACTH at 10 min after TRH administration. To determine an effect of treatment on ACTH, blood was collected via jugular venipuncture for measurement of ACTH at sequential timepoints over a 16-h period in mid-October. Hair weights were also assessed throughout the study. No differences in resting plasma ACTH were observed between the 2 groups across the seasonal analysis (July and October) or during the 16-h testing. The PPID horses receiving blue light therapy had lighter hair weights compared to the PPID control horses. These results suggest that blue light therapy does not alter ACTH concentrations but could potentially be used as an additional management tool for hypertrichosis in PPID horses. Manipulation of the photoperiod using blue light therapy did not affect seasonal changes in ACTH in this study.

Original languageEnglish
Article number106651
JournalDomestic Animal Endocrinology
StatePublished - Jan 2022

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021


  • ACTH
  • Blue light
  • Horse
  • Hypertrichosis
  • Melatonin
  • PPID

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Food Animals
  • Animal Science and Zoology
  • Endocrinology


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