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J Neuroendocrinol. 1996 Jun;8(6):427-31.

Milk ejection bursts of supraoptic oxytocin neurones during bilateral and unilateral suckling in the rat.

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Department of Physiology, Fukui Medical School, Japan.


Extracellular recordings of the electrical activity of oxytocin neurones were made from the supraoptic nuclei (SON) of lactating rats, and the milk-ejection bursts and the background activity of oxytocin neurones were investigated during unilateral and bilateral suckling. When application of pups was limited to the nipples on either the same side (ipsilateral suckling) or the side opposite (contralateral suckling) to the oxytocin neurone recorded, the burst amplitude and background firing rate were significantly (P < 0.05) lower and the inter-burst interval was significantly (P < 0.05) longer than during bilateral suckling. Furthermore, the burst amplitude was significantly (P < 0.05) lower during ipsilateral suckling than during contralateral suckling. The majority of the oxytocin neurones showed a gradual increase in the burst amplitude during bilateral (88.9%) and contralateral (77.3%) suckling, but during ipsilateral suckling only 40% of the neurones did. The inter-burst interval became shorter with the progress of the milk ejection reflex during any mode of suckling. Three pairs of oxytocin neurones recorded simultaneously from both SON were successfully tested for the effect of bilateral and unilateral suckling on the electrical activity, and the results showed the same direction of change in the burst amplitude, background activity and burst interval as shown in single side recordings. These findings indicate that the burst amplitude mainly depends on the amount of afferent suckling signals arising from the nipples on the side opposite to the recording side, and that there may exist bilateral summation centres coordinating with the synchronization mechanism of milk-ejection bursts of oxytocin neurones.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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