Alterations of growth hormone, cortisol, luteinizing hormone, and insulin concentrations in early-postnatal calves affected with diarrhea

Domest Anim Endocrinol. 2000 Feb;18(2):187-97. doi: 10.1016/s0739-7240(99)00078-8.


The aim of the study was to investigate the influence of diarrheic infections during the early postnatal phase of calves on the concentrations of hormones controlling reproduction and metabolism. Blood samples were collected from 20 male and female calves via jugular vein catheters every 15 min for 6 hr at Days 3, 9, and 21 of life. The animals were classified into three groups. Group 1 (controls): healthy calves (n = 9). Group 2: calves affected with diarrhea at Day 9 (n = 7). Group 3: calves with diarrhea at Days 3 and 9 (n = 4). Infections occurred spontaneously and were mainly due to E. coli infections. All affected calves had recovered at Day 21. Mean GH concentrations in the calves in Groups 2 and 3 compared to control calves had increased by Day 3 (P<0.01; P<0.001). Cortisol levels of calves in all groups were highest at Day 3 and decreased thereafter (P<0.001). Cortisol concentrations were lower at Day 3 in animals in Groups 2 (P<0.001) and 3 (P<0.05) than in controls. Pulsatile LH release was detectable at Days 9 and 21 only in healthy calves. Insulin increased at Day 9 during diarrhea. The results indicate that cortisol concentrations decreased whereas GH concentrations were increased before diarrhea was observed. The onset of pulsatile LH release was delayed in diarrheic calves. It is concluded that diarrhea exerts effects upon the release of reproductive and metabolic hormones in early postnatal calves.

MeSH terms

  • Age Factors
  • Animal Feed
  • Animals
  • Cattle
  • Cattle Diseases / blood*
  • Diarrhea / blood
  • Diarrhea / veterinary*
  • Female
  • Growth Hormone / blood*
  • Insulin / blood*
  • Luteinizing Hormone / blood*
  • Male
  • Radioimmunoassay / veterinary


  • Insulin
  • Luteinizing Hormone
  • Growth Hormone