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Effects of acute continuous exposure of the rat to cigarette smoke on amine levels and utilization in discrete hypothalamic catecholamine nerve terminal systems and on neuroendocrine function.


The effects of acute continuous exposure to the smoke from 1-4 cigarettes have been studied in the male rat in terms of hypothalamic catecholamine levels and utilization as well as the secretion of anterior pituitary hormones. Catecholamine levels in discrete hypothalamic catecholamine nerve terminal systems were studied by quantitative histofluorimetry. Catecholamine utilization was studied by means of the tyrosine hydroxylase inhibition method using alpha-methyl-(+/-)-p-tyrosine methyl ester. The serum hormone levels of adenohypophyseal hormones and of corticosterone were measured by the use of radioimmunoassay procedures. The results show that acute continuous exposure to unfiltered but not to filtered (Cambridge glass fibre filters) cigarette smoke leads to small but dose-dependent reductions of amine levels in most of the hypothalamic noradrenaline and dopamine nerve terminal system. These effects were associated with an enhancement of regional hypothalamic noradrenaline utilization but not of dopamine utilization in the median eminence. Furthermore, a reduction of TSH and prolactin serum levels was noted as well as increases in ACTH secretion. These results are partly different from those previously obtained with rats acutely exposed to intermittent unfiltered cigarette smoke. This difference is suggested to be due to a temporary blockade of catecholamine release following acute continuous exposure to cigarette smoke.

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