Correlation of increased grooming behavior and motor activity with alterations in nigrostriatal and mesolimbic catecholamines after α-melanotropin and neuropeptide glutamine-isoleucine injection in the rat ventral tegmental area
Cellular and Molecular Neurobiology
Behavior; Catecholamine metabolism; Dopamine; Neuropeptides; Noradrenaline; Nucleus accumbens; Nucleus caudatus
1. We wished to further study the behavioral effects of α-melanotropin (α-MSH), melanin-concentrating hormone (MCH), and neuropeptide glutamine-isoleucine (NEI). 2. To this effect we administered α-MSH, MCH, and NEI in the ventral tegmental area of the rat, a structure where these neuropeptides are highly concentrated. To further elucidate the biochemical mechanisms of the behavioral effect of these neuropeptides, we determined the degree of grooming behavior and the levels of catecholamines, after neuropeptide administration. 3. We preselected those animals responding to the central injection of α-MSH with excessive grooming behavior. We administered the neuropeptides at the dose of 1 μg/0.5 μL, in each side of the ventral tegmental area, bilaterally. We studied grooming behavior, locomotor activity, and total behavior scores, 30 and 65 min after administration of the peptides. 4. Three groups of animals were decapitated immediately after the injection of the neuropeptides, and 30 or 65 min after injection. We measured dopamine (DA), noradrenaline (NA), and the dopac/dopamine ratio (DOPAC/DA) to determine steady state levels of catecholamines and an indirect measure of DA release and metabolism, respectively. 5. Injections of α-MSH produced significant elevations in grooming behavior, locomotor activity, and total behavior scores, both 30 and 65 min after peptide administration. This was correlated with significant decreases in DA content, increases in DOPAC content, and increases in the DOPAC/DA ratio. In the caudate putamen, changes in catecholamines occurred both at 30 and 65 min after injection. In the nucleus accumbens, changes were present at 65 min after injection. Conversely, there were no alterations in NA content, either in the caudate putamen or in the nucleus accumbens, at any time after the injection. 6. Injections of NEI resulted in significant elevations in grooming behavior, locomotor activity, and total behavior scores, both 30 and 65 min after peptide administration. This was correlated with increased DOPAC/DA ratio in the nucleus caudatus but not in the nucleus accumbens. Conversely, NEI produced increased NA concentrations in the nucleus accumbens, but not in the nucleus caudatus. 7. Injections of MCH did not produce significant changes in behavior or significant changes in nucleus caudatus or nucleus accumbens catecholamines. 8. Our results indicate (a) There is a correlation with alterations in behavior as induced for the neuropeptides injected here, and changes in extrapyramidal catecholamines. (b) There is a correlation between alterations in behavior and increases in DOPAC/DA ratio in the nucleus caudatus. (c) There is a correlation between alterations in behavior and alterations in catecholamines in the nucleus accumbens. In the nucleus accumbens, DOPAC/DA ratio is changed after α-MSH, and NA ratio is changed after NEI injection. (d) Absence of alterations in extrapyramidal catecholamines, and in particular in catecholamines in the nucleus accumbens, correlates with absence of behavioral alterations after neuropeptide administration to the ventral tegmental area. 9. In conclusion, the behavioral effect of exogenous administration of neuropeptides in the ventral tegmental area is peptide-specific, and is probably associated with alterations in catecholamine metabolism and release in the nucleus caudatus and the nucleus accumbens. Both α-MSH and NEI seem to stimulate the nigrostriatal DA system. While α-MSH appears to stimulate the mesolimbic DA system as well, NEI may exert its actions not through the DA, but through the NA mesolimbic system. The precise contribution of DA and NA, and the relative role of the nucleus caudatus and nucleus accumbens in these behaviors remain to be elucidated.
Sánchez, M., Barontini, M., Armando, I., & Celis, M. (2001). Correlation of increased grooming behavior and motor activity with alterations in nigrostriatal and mesolimbic catecholamines after α-melanotropin and neuropeptide glutamine-isoleucine injection in the rat ventral tegmental area. Cellular and Molecular Neurobiology, 21 (5). http://dx.doi.org/10.1023/A:1013871407464