Hypothalamic dopamine D1 receptors are involved in the stimulation of prolactin secretion by high environmental temperature in the female sheep

K.L. Colthorpe, S.T. Anderson, Graeme Martin, J.D. Curlewis

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16 Citations (Scopus)


Recent evidence suggests that dopamine, acting via its D1 receptors, may function as a neurotransmitter in intrahypothalamic pathways involved in the stimulation of prolactin secretion. Functional dopamine D1 receptors are present in the ventromedial hypothalamic nucleus (VMH) and we hypothesized that they might be part of a prolactin-stimulatory pathway activated by stress. We tested this hypothesis in a series of experiments on sheep involving two different forms of stressors, audiovisual (barking dog) and high environmental temperature. We attempted to block the stimulation of prolactin secretion by infusion into the VMH of an antagonist specific for the D1 receptor. Ovariectomised, oestradiol-implanted merino ewes were surgically implanted with bilateral guide tubes directed at the VMH. After a 180 min pretreatment period, the ewes either were or were not exposed to a stressor (30 min of barking dog or 120 min at 35 degrees C, 65% relative humidity). D1 receptor antagonist, SCH23390 or vehicle (0.9% saline) was infused into the VMH (1.7 mu l/h, 120 nmol/h) for 60 min prior to and during the stressor period. Blood was sampled every 15 min via jugular cannulae and the plasma was assayed for prolactin, cortisol and growth hormone (GH). Both stressors significantly increased prolactin concentrations over control levels. SCH23390 infusion significantly attenuated the prolactin response to high environmental temperature, but had no effect on the prolactin response to audiovisual stress. Cortisol concentrations were significantly increased by audiovisual stress only and were not affected by SCH23390, GH concentrations were not changed by either stressor or infusion. Drug infusion alone did not affect the concentration of the hormones. The data suggest that the VMH D1 receptors are involved in a prolactin stimulatory pathway in response to high environmental temperature. The inability of the D1 antagonist to affect the response to the barking dog indicates that this pathway is stress-specific, implying that there is more than one mechanism or pathway involved in the prolactin response to different stressors.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)503-509
JournalJournal of Neuroendocrinology
Publication statusPublished - 1998


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