Open Access Open Badges Research article

Characterization of recombinant human and bovine thyroid-stimulating hormone preparations by mass spectrometry and determination of their endotoxin content

Sandra Schaefer1, Paul O Hassa2, Nadja S Sieber-Ruckstuhl1, Marion Piechotta3, Claudia E Reusch1, Bernd Roschitzki4 and Felicitas S Boretti1*

Author Affiliations

1 Clinic for Small Animal Internal Medicine Vetsuisse Faculty, University of Zurich, Zurich, Switzerland

2 Institute of Veterinary Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, Vetsuisse Faculty, University of Zurich, Zurich, Switzerland

3 Clinic for Cattle, Endocrinology Laboratory, University of Veterinary Medicine Hanover, Hanover, Germany

4 Functional Genomics Center Zurich (FGCZ), University of Zurich/ETH Zurich, Zurich, Switzerland

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BMC Veterinary Research 2013, 9:141  doi:10.1186/1746-6148-9-141

Published: 16 July 2013



The TSH stimulation test to confirm canine hypothyroidism is commonly performed using a recombinant human TSH (rhTSH), as up to date, canine TSH is not yet commercially available. Limiting factors for the use of rhTSH are its high costs and occasional difficulties in product availability. Less expensive bovine TSH preparations (bTSH) purified from bovine pituitary glands are readily commercially available. The aim of this study was to evaluate two different bTSH products as alternative to rhTSH using mass spectrometry.


More than 50 proteins, including other pituitary hormones, bovine albumin, hemoglobin, and tissue proteins were identified in the bTSH preparations. In contrast, rhTSH proved to be a highly pure product. Significantly higher endotoxin levels could be detected in all bTSH products compared to the rhTSH.


Both bTSH products are crude mixtures and therefore not an acceptable alternative to rhTSH. Their use should be discouraged to prevent unintended side effects.

Bovine TSH; Recombinant human TSH; Mass spectrometry; Endotoxin