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Tomasz Misztal, Patrycja Młotkowska, Elżbieta Marciniak and Anna Misztal

The verified hypothesis assumed that centrally administered neurosteroid, allopregnanolone (AL), could affect basal and/or stress-induced activity of the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis in sheep. Four groups (n = 6 each) of luteal-phase sheep were intracerebroventricularly infused for 3 days with a vehicle without stress (control); a vehicle treated with stressful stimuli (isolation and partial movement restriction) on the third day; AL (4 × 15 µg/60 µL/30 min, at 30-min intervals) treated with stressful stimuli, and AL alone. Simultaneously, the push-pull perfusion of the infundibular nucleus/median eminence and plasma sample collection were performed. After the experiment, the sheep were killed to collect the hypothalamic and anterior pituitary (AP) tissues. Stressful stimuli evoked an increase in the expression of corticotropin-releasing hormone (CRH) and arginine vasopressin (AVP) mRNA in the hypothalamic paraventricular nucleus (PVN), and AVP receptor (V1b) and proopiomelanocortin (POMC) mRNA in the AP; the concentrations of perfusate CRH, and plasma adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH) and cortisol compared to controls. Conversely, the expression of the CRH receptor (CRHR1) mRNA in the AP was downregulated. AL decreased the expression of CRH and AVP mRNA in the PVN, and AVPRV1b and POMC mRNA in the AP in stressed sheep, compared to only stressed ones. There was also a reduction in perfusate CRH, and plasma ACTH and cortisol concentrations. AL alone decreased the expression of CRHR1 mRNA in the AP, and plasma cortisol concentration at the beginning of the collection period compared to controls. In conclusion, AL may function centrally as a suppressor of HPA axis activity in stressed sheep.

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Tomasz Misztal, Konrad Górski, Dorota Tomaszewska-Zaremba, Edyta Molik and Katarzyna Romanowicz

The push–pull perfusions of the infundibular nucleus–median eminence (IN/ME) were made in lactating ewes (n=7) twice, to identify dopamine (DA)-derived salsolinol and the changes in its extracellular concentration in response to suckling. The perfusate collecting period in every ewe consisted of control non-suckling period, 1000–1230 h (five perfusates), and suckling period, 1230–1500 h (next five perfusates). Simultaneously, blood samples were collected from 1000 to 1500 h at 10-min intervals. The perfusate concentrations of salsolinol and DA were measured by HPLC, and plasma prolactin and GH concentrations were assayed by the RIA. Mean concentrations of salsolinol in perfusates collected from the anterior and posterior parts of the IN/ME (according to post-mortem localization of a perfusion site) increased significantly (P<0.05 and P<0.001 respectively) during the suckling period, when compared with those noted during the non-suckling period. While no DA was found in the anterior part, only vestigial amounts of DA were found in a few perfusates collected from the posterior part. Salsolinol was not detected in the IN/ME of ewes 10 weeks after weaning (seasonal anoestrus). Mean plasma prolactin and GH concentrations during suckling were significantly (P<0.001) higher than those noted during the non-suckling period. In conclusion, our current study reveals that salsolinol is present in the IN/ME of lactating ewes and that its extracellular concentration increases during suckling. Moreover, it supports the role of salsolinol as a neurotransmitter involved in the regulatory process of prolactin secretion at least during lactation.