Medio-basal hypothalamic (MBH) catecholamine mechanisms in the regulation of prolactin and growth hormone (GH) secretion were investigated in unanesthetized rats with chronic indwelling venous cannulae and bilateral MBH directed intracerebral guide cannulae. MBH injections of the catecholamine-specific neurotoxin 6-hydroxydopamine (6-OHDA; 2 μg based in 0.5 μl 0.9% saline) had no effect upon basal prolactin or GH secretion. Examination of catecholamine fluorescence indicated that MBH 6-OHDA treatment produced widespread disruption of MBH catecholamine afferents but did not destroy tuberoinfundibular dopamine neurons of the arcuate nucleus, nor median eminence catecholamine structures. MBH injections (0.5 μl, 0.032 M solutions) of dopamine, noradrenaline or adrenaline all produced statistically significant increases in plasma prolactin levels. The potency of these 3 catecholamines in evoking prolactin release differed markedly, adrenaline having the greatest effect. MBH catecholamine injections had no effect upon plasma GH levels compared to saline injected controls. The present data suggest that MBH catecholamine afferents are unimportant in the regulation of basal patterns of GH or prolactin secretion. As MBH catecholamine injections stimulate prolactin release this region may contain a prolactin-facilitatory catecholamine mechanism which is capable of generating prolactin surges in response to certain environmental or endogenous stimuli.
- growth hormone
- medio-basal hypothalamus