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Brain Res Dev Brain Res. 1992 Jul 24;68(1):67-74.

The pharmaco-ontogeny of the paraventricular alpha 2-noradrenergic receptor system mediating norepinephrine-induced feeding in the rat.

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  • 1Department of Psychology, Fairleigh Dickinson University, Rutherford, NJ 07070.


The present study was undertaken to assess the functional ontogeny of alpha 2-noradrenergic receptors in the hypothalamic paraventricular nucleus (PVN) that mediate noradrenergic stimulation of feeding in the rat. Rat pups, ranging in age from 2 to 15 days, were removed from their mothers and implanted with a brain cannula directed unilaterally at the PVN or third ventricle. On the following day, each pup was implanted with an intra-oral cannula for oral infusion of milk or water that could be swallowed or rejected. Following a 1-h period of satiation, each pup received an intracerebral injection of saline, or a single dose of norepinephrine (NE, 0.01-100.0 nmol) or the alpha 2-noradrenergic receptor agonist clonidine (0.01-1.0 nmol). Milk or water intake was then assessed following a 1-h period of infusion. Injection of NE into the PVN and third ventricle significantly enhanced milk intake at 2 days of age. NE was 10-fold more potent in the PVN than in the ventricle. While paraventricular injections of NE stimulated milk and water intake equally at 2 days of age, NE produced a greater stimulation of milk than water intake at 15 days of age. Like NE, clonidine significantly enhanced milk intake at 2 days of age following injection into the PVN. Collectively, these findings suggest that alpha 2-noradrenergic receptors, mediating noradrenergic stimulation of feeding, are functionally mature very early in the postnatal development of the rat. Moreover, consistent with evidence in the adult rat, these findings indicate that alpha 2-noradrenergic receptors relevant to feeding are located in the vicinity of the PVN.

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