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Response of mesencephalic and hypothalamic dopamine neurons to α-MSH: mediated by area postrema?

Naturevolume 266pages635637 (1977) | Download Citation



α-MELANOTROPIN (α-MSH) influences mammalian behaviour in a variety of situations. It is released from the pars intermedia of the pituitary during stress and may have a physiological role in adaptive processes1,2. In mammals, dopaminergic (DA) fibres of the tubero-hypophyseal system which originate in the arcuate nucleus of the hypothalamus, innervate the pars intermedia3; MSH secretion is usually inhibited by DA4. In rats, this DA system is subject to the influence of various extrahypothalamic brain regions thought to participate in the integration of endocrine and behavioural processes5,6. The tubero-hypophyseal DA neurones may therefore occupy a key position between brain areas involved in effects of behaviourally active peptide hormones on one hand and the pars intermedia, a site of production of such peptides, on the other hand. We report here that systemic injections of α-MSH in female rats affect the arcuate DA neurones as well as those of substantia nigra. The latter were studied in order to check for eventual parallel responses in an extrahypothalamic DA system. The peptide effect seems to depend upon the integrity of projections ascending from the lower brainstem. Cholinergic systems seem to participate in its manifestation.

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  1. Department of Pharmacology, University of Zürich, CH-8006, Zurich, Switzerland

    •  & R. LIENHART


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