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Effects of Glucocorticoids on Immunological Parameters and on Fat Metabolism During Short Time Treatment


Among the veterinary surgeons, uncertainty over the therapeutic use of Glucocorti-coids prevails because of the possible immune suppression as well as the stimulation of lipolysis. Partially, veterinarians do not differentiate between the application over a short or long time and the dosage given, hence they rather avoid using this GCS preparations. Thus the pharmacological effects of glucocorticoids, their potential that cannot be replaced by other drugs, remain unused. Glucocor-ticoids are, for example, needed to cure septic shocks or reperfusion disorders.


In two complexes investigations were performed to answers to the following 3 questions: 1) Has only one application of GCS an effect on the performance of the phagocytosis, on the concentrations of endotoxins and on the anti-lipid-A-AB-titer? 2) Do GCS applied once or repeatedly stimulate the lipolysis as well as the liver fat content? 3) How are other metabolic parameters, the morbidity as well as the performance influenced?

Experimental design

Complex I

The influence of immunological parameters was checked on 25 cows from two farms by means of Dexamethason.

Complex II

The influence of Dexamethason or Prednisolon was tested in cows and sheep respectively: in basal metabolism, fasten stimulated -, Epinephrine stimulated -, lactation stimulated -, partus stimulated as well as operation stimulated lipolysis.


I) Under the influence of GCS, the intensity of phagocytosis (ip) as well as the proportion of phagocytized cells did rise insignificantly in the granulocytes, but significantly in monocytes. In the GCS treated group, the concentrations of endotoxin rose less, the ALA-AB-titers rose more intensively. II) In all cases of stimulated lipolysis (food deprivation resp. energy lack [early lactation], epinephrine application, stress influence [parturition, operation]) we observed increased free fatty acids (FFA) and β-0H-butyrate (BHB), reduced insuline concentrations in the blood as well as enhanced liver fat content in the untreated control group. Pretreatment with a glucocorticoid never induced increased FFA and liver fat as signs of a stimulated lipolysis, but enhanced glucose and glycogen as well as reduced or unchanged FFA and BHB concentrations. The following chain reaction was always observable: glucocorticoids →↑ glucose→↑ insuline→↓ FFA →↓ liver lipids. Also other parameters of liver function (AST, GLDH, Bilirubine, Urea, total Protein) were never changed. The same results we found also in sheep (basal as well as fasten metabolism). In none of the experiments, the cortisol concentrations were depressed longer, but for a short time reduced T3 as well as T4 concentrations were observed. On the first day after parturition Voren® was applied, showing positive results. Compared with the untreated group, the morbidity and the performance were better in the Voren® group. Other results show a positive effect of glucocorticoids on the postpartal acute-phase-reaction. The lipolysis and ketogenesis were reduced.


Glucocorticoids do not influence the phagocytic activity when applied for a short period of time. They act indirectly antilipolytic in ruminants CGS act against reperfusion injuries, which does not disturb the wound healing after abomasal reposition. CGS decreases the morbidity in the early lactation and increases the 100 days milk yield.

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Correspondence to M. Fürll.

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Fürll, M., Dabbagh, M., Fürll, B. et al. Effects of Glucocorticoids on Immunological Parameters and on Fat Metabolism During Short Time Treatment. Acta Vet Scand 44 (Suppl 1), P130 (2003).

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