Dopamine agonist-induced penile erection and yawning: differential role of D₂-like receptor subtypes and correlation with nitric oxide production in the paraventricular nucleus of the hypothalamus of male rats.(2012)



Bernard B. Brodie Department of Neuroscience and Centre of Excellence for the Neurobiology of Addictions, University of Cagliari, Italy.


The dopamine D₃ preferring agonist pramipexole (50 ng) induced penile erection and yawning when injected into the paraventricular nucleus of the hypothalamus of male rats, like the mixed D₁/D₂-like agonist apomorphine (50 ng), while the D₄ agonist PD 168,077 (100 ng), induced penile erection only. These responses lasted for 45-60 min and occurred with an increase of NO₂- and NO₃- concentrations in the dialysate obtained from the paraventricular nucleus by intracerebral microdialysis. Pramipexole and apomorphine responses were reduced by the D₂ preferring antagonist L-741,626 (5 μg), but not by the D₃ preferring antagonist SB-277011A (10 μg), or the D₄ preferring antagonist L-745,870 (5 μg), injected into the PVN before the dopamine agonist. In contrast, PD 168,077 responses were reduced by L-745,870, but not by L-741,626 or SB-277011A. Pramipexole, apomorphine and PD 168,077 effects were also reduced by the nitric oxide synthase inhibitor S-methyl-L-thiocitrulline (20 μg) and the N-type voltage-dependent Ca²⁺ channels blocker ω-conotoxin (5 ng), given into the paraventricular nucleus, and by the oxytocin antagonist d(CH₂)₅Tyr(Me)²-Orn⁸-vasotocin (2 μg), given intracerebroventricularly but not into the paraventricular nucleus before dopamine agonists. These results suggest that stimulation of D₂, but not D₃ or D₄ receptors, by pramipexole or apomorphine increases Ca²⁺ influx in cell bodies of oxytocinergic neurons. This increases the production of nitric oxide, which activates oxytocinergic neurotransmission in extra-hypothalamic brain areas and spinal cord, leading to penile erection and yawning. However, the stimulation of D₄ receptors by PD 168,077 also increases Ca²⁺ influx/nitric oxide production leading to penile erection, but not yawning.

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