Dopaminergic neuronal function, anterior pituitary dopamine content, and serum concentrations of prolactin, luteinizing hormone and progesterone in the aged female rat
Demarest, K.T.; Moore, K.E.; Riegle, G.D.
Brain Research 247(2): 347-354
The serum concentrations of prolactin (PRL), progesterone and luteinizing hormone (LH), as well as the content and rate of synthesis of dopamine (DA) in selected brain regions were determined in young (3-6 mo.), intermediate (13-15 mo.) and aged (24-25 mo.) female Long-Evans rats. Young rats were examined on the days of diestrus 2 and estrus. Intermediate rats were divided into 2 groups, a group which was cycling regularly (examined on the day of estrus) and a group which exhibited constant estrus. Aged rats were divided into 3 groups, one which cycled regurlarly (examined day of estrus), one which exhibited constant estrus and one which exhibited repetitive pseudopregnancies. Serum PRL was increased in all intermediate and aged rats when compared to values in young animals. Serum LH was increased and progesterone decreased in those intermediate and aged rats which exhibited constant estrous reproductive patterns. The DA content was generally decreased in the median eminence, posterior pituitary, striatum, nucleus accumbens and olfactory tubercle of all aged rats, while the rate of DA synthesis was decreased only in the median eminence of aged, non-cycling rats. All DA neuronal systems except those in the tuberoinfundibular system apparently are able to compensate for the age-related loss. Despite the apparent reduction of tuberoinfundibular DA neuronal function the concentration of DA in the anterior pituitary, which is believed to represent amine released from the neurons, is dramatically increased in intermediate age rats in constant estrus and in all groups of aged rats. The maintenance of high PRL secretion despite the elevated content of DA in the anterior pituitary suggests an age-related defect in the dynamics of DA in this gland; this defect may contribute to the loss of reproductive function in the aging rat.