Noradrenergic afferents to median eminence: Inhibitory role in rhythmic growth hormone secretion

Trevor A. Day, John O. Willoughby

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    The involvement of noradrenergic (NA) afferents to the median eminence (ME) in the regulation of growth hormone (GH) secretion was investigated in chronically cannulated, unanaesthetized male rats by using systematically administered 6-hydroxy-dopamine (6-OHDA). One day after 6-OHDA treatment (50 mg/kg, i.v.) GH peak frequency was substantially increased and examination of catecholamine (CA) fluorescence indicated disruption of CA innervation of the ME, but not other central nervous system (CNS) structures. Prolactin secretion at this time was normal and the administration of butaclamol (1.0 mg/kg, i.v.), a dopamine (DA) antagonist, was effective in increasing secretion, indicating that ME DA mechanisms were functionally intact following 6-OHDA treatment. GH secretory patterns returned to normal by 21 days following 6-OHDA treatment and this corresponded with re-emergence of a normal pattern of CA-fluorescence in the ME. In an additional study, the administration of the α-NA agonist clonidine (130 μg/kg, i.v.) increased GH secretion in previously untreated animals. Administration of the α-NA agonist oxymetazoline (45 μg/kg, i.v.), which does not readily pass the blood-brain barrier (BBB), suppressed GH secretion. These findings indicate that ME NA afferents are inhibitory to GH secretion and are a major determinant of the 3 h pattern of GH release in the rat. This inhibitory input is subsidiary to a NA stimulatory input to an as yet unidentified site inside the BBB.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)335-345
    Number of pages11
    JournalBrain Research
    Issue number2
    Publication statusPublished - 8 Dec 1980


    • growth hormone
    • hypothalamus
    • median eminence
    • noradrenergic afferents


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