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Pharmacol Biochem Behav. 2005 May;81(1):211-9.

Dopamine D2, but not D4, receptor agonists are emetogenic in ferrets.

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  • 1Integrative Pharmacology, Global Pharmaceutical Research and Discovery, Abbott Laboratories, R46R AP9-1, 100 Abbott Park Road, Abbott Park, IL 60064-6119, USA.


Agents that activate the dopamine D2-like family of receptors elicit emesis in humans and other species with a vomiting/emetic reflex; however, the lack of dopamine receptor subtype selective agonists has hampered an understanding of which dopamine D2-like receptor subtype(s) contributes to the emetic response. In this study, stable cell lines expressing the ferret dopamine D2-long (D2L) and D4 receptors were used to characterize known dopamine agonists via radioligand binding and calcium ion flux assays, while emetic activity of these dopamine receptor agonists was determined in male ferrets. Latencies to first emetic event, average number of emetic episodes, and stereotypical behaviors which may be indicative of nausea were also determined. Agonists at dopamine D1-like and D4 receptors had no emetic effect in ferrets. Conversely, stimulation of dopamine D2 and/or D3 receptors resulted in a robust emetic response characterized by a relatively short latency (<15 min) and multiple emetic events. Competitive antagonists of dopamine D2-like receptors (domperidone, haloperidol) dose-dependently blocked the emetic response to PNU95666E, a dopamine D2 receptor selective agonist. Thus, dopamine D2 and/or D3 receptor agonists elicit emesis, while dopamine D1/D5 or D4 receptor-selective agonists are devoid of emetic properties.

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