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Anna Fodor, Ottó Pintér, Ágnes Domokos, Kristina Langnaese, István Barna, Mario Engelmann, and Dóra Zelena

to defined stressors, lactating rats exhibit – compared with virgin females – reduced ACTH, corticosterone, prolactin, catecholamine, and oxytocin (OT) responses. In the PVN of lactating rats, Crh mRNA levels fail to increase in response to a

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Toni Welsh, Matrika Johnson, Lijuan Yi, Huiqing Tan, Roksana Rahman, Amy Merlino, Tamas Zakar, and Sam Mesiano

1993 , Kilarski et al . 1996 , 2000 ), receptors for uterotonic hormones such as oxytocin and prostaglandin F 2 α (PGF 2 α ; Pinto et al . 1966 , 1967 , Nissenson et al . 1978 ), and enzymes such as PG-endoperoxide synthase-2 (PTGS2), the main

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J Bancroft

of action, or even the context in which it is acting. In this review, attention will be restricted to oxytocin (OT), β-endorphin and prolactin (PRL) as representatives of the main types of peptides relevant to sexual arousal, and most of the cited

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Radmila Kancheva, Martin Hill, David Cibula, Helena Včeláková, Lyudmila Kancheva, Jana Vrbíková, Tomáš Fait, Antonín Pařízek, and Luboslav Stárka

modulators of N -methyl- d -aspartate receptors (NMDA-R) respectively ( Park-Chung et al. 1997 , Weaver et al. 2000 ). The activation of NMDA-R in hypothalamic magnocellular neuroendocrine cells of the supraoptic nucleus may induce oxytocin production

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H Wang, H Wolosker, J Pevsner, SH Snyder, and DJ Selkoe

Little evidence is available for the physiological function of D-amino acids in species other than bacteria. Here we demonstrate that naturally occurring freed -aspartate (D-Asp) is present in all magnocellular neurons of rat hypothalamus. The levels of this naturally occurring D-amino acid were elevated during lactation and returned to normal thereafter in the magnocellular neurosecretory system, which produces oxytocin, a hormone responsible for milk ejection during lactation. Intraperitoneal injections of D-Asp reproducibly increased oxytocin gene expression and decreased the concentration of circulating oxytocin in vivo. Similar changes were observed in the vasopressin system. These results provide evidence for the role(s) of naturally occurring free D-Asp in mammalian physiology. The findings argue against the conventional concept that only L-stereoisomers of amino acids are functional in higher species.

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AJ Douglas, HA Johnstone, A Wigger, R Landgraf, JA Russell, and ID Neumann

Endogenous opioid regulation of neurohypophysial and hypothalamo-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis hormone secretion in response to forced swimming (90 s in deep water at 19 degrees C) was investigated in virgin and 21-day-pregnant rats. There was no difference in basal plasma oxytocin concentrations between pregnant and virgin rats, but the opioid antagonist, naloxone, increased basal oxytocin secretion in the pregnant rats. Forced swimming increased oxytocin secretion similarly in pregnant and virgin rats, and this response was enhanced by naloxone. In pregnant rats naloxone had a greater effect (by 3.1-fold) than in virgins, showing stronger endogenous opioid restraint of an enhanced oxytocin secretory response to stress in pregnancy. Vasopressin secretion was not increased with forced swimming in virgin or pregnant rats, and naloxone had no effect. ACTH and corticosterone secretion in response to forced swimming was attenuated in pregnant rats compared to virgin rats, measured at 5 min. Naloxone had no effect on basal plasma ACTH or corticosterone concentration, but it reduced ACTH secretion in virgin rats 5 min after forced swimming; in pregnant rats naloxone had no such effect. Naloxone removed the pregnancy-related attenuation in corticosterone secretion measured at 5 min after forced swimming. Fifteen minutes after forced swimming, plasma corticosterone concentrations were not different between groups. In the late-pregnant rats, the increases in plasma ACTH and corticosterone induced by forced swimming were significantly prolonged compared to virgins. The results show that endogenous opioid inhibition emerges in pregnancy to restrict the responses of oxytocin neurones to a stressor. In contrast, the endogenous opioid enhancement of mechanisms regulating HPA axis secretory responses in virgin rats is not evident during pregnancy.

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E Bojanowska and B Stempniak

To date, glucagon-like peptide 1(7-36) amide (tGLP-1) has been found to affect the neurohypophysial and cardiovascular functions in normotensive and normovolaemic rats. The aim of the present study was to investigate possible effects of tGLP-1 on the mean arterial blood pressure and the release of vasopressin and oxytocin under conditions of blood volume depletion in the rat. In the first series of experiments, the animals were injected i.p. with either 0.15 M saline or 30% polyethylene glycol (PEG). PEG caused an 18% reduction of blood volume 1 h after injection. No significant changes in the mean arterial blood pressure were found in either normo- or hypovolaemic rats during the experiment. tGLP-1 injected i.c.v. at a dose of 1 microg/5 microl 1 h after the i.p. injection increased similarly the arterial blood pressure in normo- and hypovolaemic rats. The plasma vasopressin/oxytocin concentrations were markedly elevated in hypovolaemic animals and tGLP-1 further augmented the release of both hormones. In the second study, hypovolaemia was induced by double blood withdrawal. The haemorrhage resulted in a marked decrease of the mean arterial blood pressure and in the elevated plasma vasopressin/oxytocin concentrations. tGLP-1 injected immediately after the second blood withdrawal increased the arterial blood pressure. In parallel, tGLP-1 enhanced significantly vasopressin and oxytocin secretion when compared with haemorrhaged, saline-injected rats. The results of this study indicate that tGLP-1 may affect the arterial blood pressure and the secretion of neurohypophysial hormones under pathological conditions brought about by blood volume depletion.

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N Duckworth, K Marshall, and JK Clayton

The aim of this study was to compare the effect of two known spasmogens, oxytocin and the stable thromboxane receptor mimetic, U46619, on human myometrium treated with the prostaglandin E receptor (EP2) agonist, butaprost (selective for the EP2 receptor). Strips of myometrium from pregnant and non-pregnant donors were set up in a superfusion apparatus. Butaprost was administered as a bolus dose and via infusion. During the infusion of 10(-6) M butaprost, spasmogens were administered as bolus doses. Butaprost caused dose-related inhibition of myometrial activity when administered as a bolus dose (3-100 nmol) and concentration-dependent inhibition during infusion studies (10(-8)-10(-5 )M). Butaprost (10(-6 )M) attenuated the response to U46619 (0.l-10 nmol) in pregnant myometrium, but this difference was not statistically significant. Responses of pregnant myometrium to oxytocin (0.01-0.1 nmol) were significantly attenuated (P<0.05) in the presence of butaprost (10(-6)M). Butaprost physiologically antagonised the oxytocin response, possibly by increasing intracellular cAMP levels. This antagonism was much more marked than that seen with butaprost and U46619. It is unclear why these two types of antagonism differ and this effect is currently being investigated further using other prostanoid and non-prostanoid agents.

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FS Khan-Dawood, J Yang, and MY Dawood

The synthesis and secretion of progesterone in the corpus luteum are regulated by both endocrine and paracrine/ autocrine factors which affect the steroidogenic cells. Evidence suggests that these cells communicate via cell-cell junctional proteins, the connexins. Previously we have shown that connexin-43 is expressed in both human and baboon (Papio hamadryus anubis) corpora lutea, with differential expression throughout luteal development, but is not detectable in corpora albicantia. We have examined the effect of human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG), oxytocin, clomiphene citrate and the anti-progesterone onapristone on expression of connexin-43 protein in the early luteal phase 1-5 days after the mid-cycle luteinizing hormone (LH) surge (LH+ 1-5 days), the mid-luteal phase 6-10 days after the LH surge (LH+ 6-10 days), and the late luteal phase 11-15 days after the LH surge (LH+ 11-15 days) in corpora lutea obtained from normal adult cycling females. Connexin-43 was localized by immunohistochemistry in cultured cells from all the three stages. Western blot analysis of the treated cells indicated the presence of two bands at 43 and 45 kDa. The band at 45 kDa was found to be phosphorylated connexin-43, indicating the presence of functional gap junctions. hCG (10 IU/ml) stimulated the expression of connexin-43 throughout luteal development; however, maximum expression occurred in the early luteal phase with a significantly greater expression of the non-phosphorylated protein. In contrast, in the mid-luteal phase, the expression of the phosphorylated protein was predominant. Oxytocin (200 mU/ml) also stimulated connexin-43 expression throughout luteal development with similar effects on the phosphorylated and non-phosphorylated protein in the early and mid-luteal phase; however, compared with hCG, oxytocin had a greater effect on mid-luteal phase connexin-43 expression. In the presence of both hCG and oxytocin, the expression of connexin-43 was significantly higher than the control only in the late luteal phase. Both clomiphene citrate and onapristone suppressed connexin-43 expression, and concomitant addition of hCG did not counteract their effect. In the context of our previous studies, it is concluded that, together with LH/hCG and the steroid hormones, oxytocin is involved in cell-cell contact-dependent communication in the corpus luteum.

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TH Kruger, P Haake, D Chereath, W Knapp, OE Janssen, MS Exton, M Schedlowski, and U Hartmann

We have demonstrated that sexual activity produces transient sympathoadrenal activation and a pronounced, long-lasting increase in prolactin in men and women. However, by analyzing endocrine alterations at 10-min intervals, a precise assignment of these changes to the pre-, peri- and postorgasmic periods was not possible. Thus, the current study aimed to accurately differentiate the endocrine response to sexual arousal and orgasm in men using an automatic blood collection technique with 2-min sampling intervals. Blood was drawn continuously before, during and after orgasm over a total period of 40 min in 10 healthy subjects and were compared with samples obtained under a control condition. Sexual activity induced transient increases of plasma epinephrine and norepinephrine levels during orgasm with a rapid decline thereafter. In contrast, prolactin levels increased immediately after orgasm and remained elevated throughout the experiment. Although oxytocin was acutely increased after orgasm, these changes were not consistent and did not reach statistical significance. Vasopressin, LH, FSH and testosterone plasma concentrations remained unaltered during sexual arousal and orgasm. These data confirm that prolactin is secreted after orgasm and, compared with oxytocin, seems to represent a more reliable and sustained marker for orgasm in man. The results further reinforce a role for prolactin either as a neuroendocrine reproductive reflex or as a feedback mechanism modulating dopaminergic systems in the central nervous system that are responsible for appetitive behavior.