The involvement of central dopamine receptors in the hypotensive action of the dopaminergic ergoline, pergolide was determined in anesthetized rats. Intravenous (i.v.) or intracerebroventricular (i.v.t.) administration of pergolide (12.5, 25 and 50 μg/kg) produced dose-dependent decreases in blood pressure. The magnitude of hypotension seen following either i.v. or i.v.t. administration of pergolide was similar. However, while both sulpiride (1 mg/kg, i.v.) as well as phentolamine (1 mg/kg, i.v.) antagonized the hypotensive action of i.v. pergolide, only sulpiride (1 mg/kg, i.v.t.) was able to antagonize the hypotension seen following i.v.t. administration of pergolide. Phentolamine (1 mg/kg, i.v.t.) did not alter the central hypotensive action of pergolide. In a separate group of rats, clonidine (25 μg/kg, i.v.t.) also produced a decrease in blood pressure. While phentolamine (i.v.t.) antagonized the central hypotensive action of clonidine, sulpiride (i.v.t.) did not have any effect on the action of clonidine. These results show that selective activation of central dopamine receptors was responsible for the hypotensive action of centrally-administered pergolide. In a separate group of rats greater splanchnic sympathetic nerve activity was measured. Intravenous pergolide produced similar hypotensive response as seen in previous groups, and this was accompanied by a concomitant decrease in the sympathetic nerve activity. The maximum fall in blood pressure (26±6 mm Hg) was correlated with a 40% reduction in sympathetic nerve activity. The return of blood pressure to control levels occurred after 60-70 min and was also associated with the return of sympathetic nerve activity to control levels. In some experiments administration of sulpiride (i.v.) at a time when maximum falls in blood pressure and sympathetic nerve activity had occurred, caused rapid restoration of both these parameters to control levels. These results provide evidence for the presence of central dopamine receptors in the cardiovascular centers within the brain and suggest that activation of these receptors causes a lowering of blood pressure. Central dopaminergic inhibition of peripheral sympathetic nerve activity may also contribute to the hypotensive action of pergolide.
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