by Debbie Ducommun
In 2011, I reported on a new treatment for pituitary tumors in the Rat-a-tat Chat, the quarterly newsletter of the non-profit Rat Assistance & Teaching Society (www.petrats.org), and here is that report:
An Exciting New Treatment for Pituitary Tumors
Earlier this year, I heard from a couple of rat owners that their veterinarians had prescribed a drug called cabergoline for rats suspected of having a pituitary tumor. In April, a veterinarian had even emailed me to see if I had heard of cabergoline being used in rats, but it was all new to me. I did some research online and learned that it is a drug used to treat the most common type of pituitary tumor in humans, called a prolactinoma, which is a benign tumor (adenoma) of the pituitary gland that overproduces a hormone called prolactin. The overproduction of prolactin can result in abnormal milk production. At first I thought the cabergoline only reduced the production of prolactin, but apparently it can actually reduce the size of a pituitary tumor, which is very exciting.
case study published in the
The rat apparently did well until eight and half months after the onset of treatment, when he was taken back to the vet with hind leg paralysis, weight loss, and respiratory distress. A third MRI found the tumor had regrown to 9.1 X 8.0 X 7.3 mm, and the rat was euthanized. A biopsy confirmed the diagnosis of a prolactinoma.
The most common side effects of cabergoline in humans are digestive-related, such as nausea and constipation, or behavioral, such as dizziness, insomnia, or depression. The only medication that interacts with cabergoline that rats might also be given is metoclopramide, a treatment for mega-esophagus, which is a very rare problem.
In February 2015, one of my rats was diagnosed with a pituitary tumor. In the
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