Original Investigation


, Volume 124, Issue 3, pp 231-240

First online:

Behavioural effects in the rat of the putative dopamine D3 receptor agonist 7-OH-DPAT: comparison with quinpirole and apomorphine

  • R. DepoortereAffiliated withSynthélabo Recherche
  • , G. PerraultAffiliated withSynthélabo Recherche
  • , D. J. SangerAffiliated withSynthélabo Recherche

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This study assessed the effects of IP injections of (±) 7-hydroxy-2(N,N-di-n-propylamino)tetralin (7-OH-DPAT), a dopamine agonist that has been reported to have preferential affinity for the dopamine D3 subtype of receptor, on four behavioural procedures in the rat: 1) spontaneous locomotion, 2) electrical self-stimulation of the ventral tegmental area (VTA), using the curve-shift procedure 3) operant responding for food under a progressive-ratio (PR) schedule and 4) induction of stereotypies. The effects of (±) 7-OH-DPAT were compared to the effects of apomorphine, a non-specific DA agonist, and quinpirole, a selective D2/D3 agonist. All three dopamine agonists decreased locomotor activity at low doses (0.01–0.3 mg/kg), and only apomorphine had clear locomotor stimulant effects at the highest dose tested (3 mg/kg). The three drugs dose-dependently depressed VTA self-stimulation in a similar way, with low doses inducing a fairly parallel rightward shift of the frequency/rate curves and higher doses flattening the curves. In contrast, responding for food under the PR schedule appeared to be differentially affected by the three agonists: 7-OH-DPAT induced a biphasic effect, with a maximal decrease in lever-pressing at 0.1 mg/kg, followed by a return to baseline levels with increasing doses (0.3–3 mg/kg); quinpirole showed a tendency to decrease responding over the whole dose-range tested with a maximal effect of about 50% of baseline between 0.25 and 1 mg/kg, and apomorphine dose-dependently decreased responding, with rats ceasing to respond at 0.3 mg/kg. All three DA agonists induced stereotypies, but there was a difference in the maximal stereotypy score induced by each of the ligands: 7-OH-DPAT produced a lower maximal effect than quinpirole or apomorphine. This indicates that each of the three dopamine agonists preferentially induced different types of stereotypies. Together, these data suggest that the putative dopamine D3 agonist 7-OH-DPAT, at low doses, has depressant effects similar to those induced by low doses of the other two DA agonists. Differences in the behavioural effects of higher doses were, however, mostly observed in two procedures, PR responding and induction of stereotypies.

Key words

7-OH-DPAT Apomorphine Dopamine D3 receptors Locomotor activity Progressive-ratio Quinpirole Rat Self-stimulation Stereotypies