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Pharmacology Biochemistry
& Behavior
1983; 19; 917-919
lexique
Hypophysectomy prevents yawning and penile erection but not hypomotility induced by apomorphine
G Serra, M Collu, S Loddo, G Celasco, GL Gessa
Institute of Pharmacology, University of Cagliari, Italy
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The administration of small doses of apomorphine or other dopaminomimetic drugs in rats produces a behavioural syndrome characterized by hypomotility, yawning, penile erection and genital grooming.
 
These effects are considered to be the behavioural consequence of the inhibition of dopaminergic transmission mediatedby the stimulation of dopamine (DA) autoreceptors in the CNS. Indeed, doses of DA agonists producing these behavioural effects are within the dose range needed to activate DA autoreceptors, but much lower than those needed to stimulate postsynaptic DA receptors and to produce stereotypy and stimulation of motor activity.
 
We have recently shown that the inhibition of protein synthesis prevents apomorphine-induced yawning, penile erection and genital grooming, suggesting that the inhibition of DA transmission might result in the release of some newly synthetized peptides.
 
The fact that MSH-producing cells in the intermediate lobe of the pituitary are under the inhibitory control of dopaminergic neurons and that ACTH and MSH share with apomorphine the ability to produce penile erection and yawning suggests that these peptides might be possible candidates for mediating yawning, penile erection and genital grooming induced by low doses of apomorphine.
 
On the basis of these considerations, we might suggest that inhibition of dopaminergic activity results in the release of ACTH or MSH peptides from pituitary or from peptidergic neurons in the brain.
 
The present study was carried out to investigate the role of pituitary on the behavioural effects induced by low doses of apomorphine. The present results indicate that hypophysectomy inhibits yawning, penile erection and genital grooming but not the hypomotility induced by small doses of apomorphine. [...]
 
The present findings indicate that hypophysectomy abolishe some behavioural effects of small doses of apomorphine, namely yawning, penile rection and genital grooming, but fails to prevent apomorphine-induced hypomotility.

Since, at the time of the experiments, there was a significant difference in body weight between control and hypophysectomized animals, the possible influence of the debilitating effect of hypophysectomy in the inhibition of apomorphine-induced yawning, penile erection and genital grooming cannot be entirely excluded. However, an unspecific effect is unlikely since hypophysectomy specifically antagonizes some apomorphine effects but does not influence apomorphine-induced hypomotility.

These results support the hypothesis that the former behavioural effects of apomorphine are mediated by some pituitary hormones. These hormones might be identified with ACTH and MSH peptides, since they are the only ones capable of producing yawning and penile erection. Moreover, MSH-producing cells in the pars intermedia of the pituitary are under the inhibitory control of dopaminergic neurons originating from the arcuate nucleus in the hypothalamus. In might be suggested that stimulation of DA autoreceptors present on these neurons results in the removal of the inhibitory control of DA on MSH release. MSH released from pituitary might reach the target areas in the brain via a retrograde portal flow.

An alternative interpretation of our results might be that the lack of some pituitary hormone alters the sensitivity of DA receptors responsible for yawning, penile erection and genital grooming, but not those responsible for the reduction of motor activity.

Finally, the suppressant effect of hypophysectomy on apomorphine-induced yawning, penile erection and genital grooming might be indirect, secondary to the involution of the gonads or adrenals. In fact, it has been reported that castration reduces apomorphine-induced yawning.

The fact that apomorphine-induced hypomotility is not altered by hypophysectomy suggests that, contrary to that observed for the other behavioural responses, pituitary peptides are neither directly nor indirectly involved in the sedative effect of the drug.

 
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