The History of My Clinical Findings

Posted on October 10th, 2014

I began my clinical veterinary career in August of 1966, when I graduated from the University of California, School of Veterinary Medicine, Davis, California. One of my first thoughts in the early days of my veterinary practice was to wonder why steroid (CORTISOL) injections were so commonly used and why they seemed so effective. Since cortisol is a natural hormone that is produced in the body of all animals and humans daily, I began to wonder if we were funding a cortisol imbalance without realizing it.

This was the actual beginning of my clinical studies, which led to my first publication by Modern Veterinary Practice in November of 1976. The article was entitled CANINE IMMUNE COMPLEX DISEASES. The article was an attempt to share my clinical findings with my peers, in hopes that it might create some interest from the veterinary academics.

Unfortunately, this was not the case. The Veterinary Allergist publication, by the Academy of Veterinary Allergy, with its Critics Corner Anonymous sent the veterinary world a scathing review of my article telling them that I oscillated between “a scientist and a 10th grader with a fascination for science fiction”. This was the result of my first try to share my findings with my peers. The critique was so scathing, unfair, and so unprofessional, that many veterinarians from around the country sent in their comments saying they thought the critic was not only unfair and unprofessional, but did not even have guts enough to sign their name. In spite of this, I continued to search for answers.

Soon thereafter, I was asked by a clinical medical group of physicians if I would inspect their animal laboratory to make sure everything was clean and humane. I was asked what kind of compensation I would like for my services. I told them I would like to have them run serum samples from my patients through their laboratory, and help me check for any antibody imbalances. They agreed to have Miles Laboratory, check IgG, IgM, IgA, IgD and IgE for me. So my clinical studies continued.

I eventually began to realize, with my clinical studies, only the IgG, IgM and IgA seemed to be significant.

One day, I had a young male, Golden Retriever brought into my practice with a swollen face and thickened, bloody ears. I treated the puppy immediately with an antibiotic for a bacterial infection and a synthetic cortisol, to help reduce the swelling and inflammation. I also took a blood sample and sent it to the laboratory.

The puppy’s IgG, IgM and IgA were all deficient. After one week of oral antibiotic and oral cortisol, the puppy improved tremendously.

If you would like to see pictures of the puppy before and after therapy, go here, Multimedia Presentations, and view the second lecture under Power Point Slides. You will also see other canines with multiple endocrine immune imbalances.

The original blood test taken on the puppy indicated an immune imbalance with decreased amounts of antibody. However, the second blood sample indicated that the puppy’s antibodies had increased! How could this be? We have been taught that giving cortisol (steroids) will cause further antibody suppression. The opposite occurred! My clinical search continued, as did my clinical studies.

I had three more papers published.

  1. The Theory of Endocrine Immune Surveillance was published in the California Veterinarian, January 1979.
  2. Endocrine Immune Surveillance was published in the Southern California Veterinary Medical Association magazine, the PULSE, June and July 1979. I still have a number of slides from preparing the article for this publication, showing autoimmune adrenal reactions and necrosis.
  3. Preliminary Observations on Endocrine-Associated Immunodeficiencies in Dogs was published in Modern Veterinary Practice, October 1979. In this article I reported on a number of clinical cases showing endocrine immune imbalances and from my test results tried to create a chart of normal values using Miles Laboratories. The serum tests measured T3, T4, ACTH resting and stimulated cortisol, IgG, IgM and IgA.

In the back of my mind, I still wondered why my Golden Retriever patient, taking a steroid supplement, would result in increased antibody production!

Soon thereafter, I was approached by Dr. Arnold Epstein who just opened a veterinary laboratory with his partner, Dr. Eli Goldstein. Both were PHD’s in biochemistry. The name of their laboratory, was A and E Clinical Veterinary Laboratory. Both Dr. Epstein and Dr. Goldstein agreed to do my endocrine immune blood tests, and by this time, I began to realize that cortisol production had something to do with the production of estrogen.

I asked Dr. Epstein to work with me in creating a total estrogen test, which he did.

Upon doing my testing, which now included total estrogen, I was able to create a comparative chart of normal values that did differ slightly from my Miles Laboratory normal values, which did not include total estrogen. I began to realize that cortisol is produced in normal amounts every day in animals and people, and it works in a negative feedback mechanism with the hypothalamic pituitary axis.

After the cortisol performs its functions in the body, it is broken down by the liver and excreted by the kidneys. When the cortisol production from the middle layer adrenal cortex has been used up, the hypothalamus releases its hormone and in turn, causes the pituitary gland to release its hormone, referred to as ACTH. This mechanism is referred to as a negative feedback mechanism.

What I began to realize, is that if there is a cortisol deficiency or the production of an elevated defective, inactive cortisol, the cortisol funding for the negative feedback mechanism to the hypothalamic pituitary axis would be damaged. If this happens, the production of ACTH continues, and the inner layer adrenal cortex (zona reticulris) will respond in a direct feedback mechanism, and cause the production of excess amounts of adrenal estrogen. The excess amounts of adrenal estrogen, among other detrimental effects, will deregulate the immune system and as part of the damage that it causes, the B-lymphocyte will reduce its production of IgG, IgM and IgA.

This would explain the fact that the Golden Retriever puppy was either not producing proper amounts of cortisol, or as I have found later in my studies, that he may have been producing a defective, inactive cortisol.

This would explain why giving the puppy a cortisol supplement would fund the negative feedback mechanism to the pituitary, which would reduce the amount of ACTH that is being produced by the pituitary gland, and reduce the adrenal estrogen, which allow the B-lymphocyte to once again increase its production of IgG, IgM and IgA! Finally, this would explain why giving a steroid to this puppy, would increase his antibody levels.

I also realized that it must be determined if the cortisol is active or defective and inactive. This can only be determined by measuring the total estrogen, which will indicate whether the cortisol is active or defective and inactive and can or cannot fund the negative feedback mechanism to the hypothalamic pituitary axis.

I found that doing an ACTH Stimulation Test was of little value when the test indicated excessive amounts of cortisol, because without also testing the total estrogen, you are unable to determine if the cortisol produced is active or defective and inactive. Please see the article on my website entitled, Does My Dog Really Have Cushing’s Syndrome?

As fate would have it, A and E Clinical Veterinary Laboratories was purchased in 1987 by the Anton brothers, and was the beginning of ANTECH Laboratories. NOTE: The Anton brothers also created the Veterinary Centers of America (VCA)

Upon the sale of their laboratory, Dr. Epstein relayed to me that A and E Clinical Veterinary Laboratory had performed over 43,000 of my endocrine immune blood tests that helped thousands of animals.

I had to once again find a veterinary laboratory that was qualified to do my endocrine immune test, including total estrogen.

I am now sending my serum samples to National Diagnostic Laboratory Services.

The information on this laboratory can be found at my website under GET HELP. So far, the owner of the laboratory has related to me that he has been involved with performing over 29,000 of my endocrine immune tests in dogs, cats, horses and humans.

Fortunately, from early 2002 up until 2005, I had several other articles published in human journals like Medical Hypothesis, Townsend Letter and Journal of Toxicology. These and other publications can be found in Published Papers.

I also had several MD’s do my endocrine immune tests on their patients with successful outcomes.

I did try to retire for the next few years, but I had so many requests by pet owners for my return, that I decided to come back and try to make a difference for my patients once again.

My clinical studies and protocol have been used by many veterinarians, but because my findings are new and original, they are not well understood. This lack of understanding and lack of double blind studies stops me from publishing in peer reviewed veterinary journals.

As a veterinary clinician, I will always treat every patient to the best of my ability and not let 50% of my patients suffer because of a placebo, in order to have my article accepted for publication.

Hopefully the day will come when the veterinary academia may consider my clinical findings are worth reviewing.

It has been a long, hard, 48 years of clinical veterinary practice, but it has all been worthwhile, because I have found something with my studies that has made a difference for my patients.


Dr. AL Plechner