The yawning elicited by α-melanocyte-stimulating hormone involves serotonergic-dopaminergic-cholinergic neuron link in rats

  • Katsushi Yamada
  • Tatsuo Furukawa


A behavioral study was performed in an attempt to understand the neuronal mechanisms involved in yawning and ‘Wet-Dog’ body shaking in rats.

  1. 1.

    Physostigmine (0.2 mg/kg, i. p.) and pilocarpine (4 mg/kg, i. p.) induced yawning. The physostigmine-induced yawning was markedly inhibited by high doses (4, 8 mg/kg, i. p.) of apomorphine which preferentially stimulate postsynaptic dopamine receptors but was not inhibited by methysergide, whereas the pilocarpine-induced yawning was unaffected by either apomorphine or methysergide.

  2. 2.

    Intraperitoneal injections of low doses (5 mg/kg, i. p.) of piribedil, which preferentially activate presynaptic dopamine autoreceptors, also elicited yawning. At a high dose of 80 mg/kg, piribedil produces stereotypy which has been thought to be mediated by stimulation of postsynaptic dopamine receptors. The yawning and stereotypy did not occur simultaneously in the rat. The piribedil-induced yawning was markedly inhibited after treatment with fluphenazine, scopolamine or methysergide.

  3. 3.

    Intraventricular injection of α-melanocyte-stimulating hormone (α-MSH, 10 μg/rat) elicited not only yawningstretching syndrome but also ‘Wet-Dog’ body shaking. Yawning synchronized with stretching in almost all cases. The α-MSH-induced yawning-stretching syndrome was blocked by scopolamine, apomorphine (8 mg/kg×3, i. p.), fluphenazine or methysergide, while body shaking was inhibited by methysergide, apomorphine or fluphenazine but was not inhibited by scopolamine.

  4. 4.

    Body shaking was also produced by 5-hydroxytryptophan (150 mg/kg, s. c.) in combination with a peripheral decarboxylase inhibitor, Ro 4-4602 (50 mg/kg, i. p.), accompanied rarely by yawning and stretching.

  5. 5.

    The present results indicate that a reciprocal balance of serotonergic activation-dopaminergic inhibition-cholinergic activation is involved in the yawning, and that α-MSH also induces body shaking by activating in part the central serotonergic neuron system.


Key words

Yawning ‘Wet-Dog’ body shaking α-Melanocyte-stimulating hormone Dopaminergic agonists Cholinergic agonists 


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 1981

Authors and Affiliations

  • Katsushi Yamada
    • 1
  • Tatsuo Furukawa
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Pharmacology, School of MedicineFukuoka UniversityFukuokaJapan

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