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Factors governing the periodic activation of supraoptic and paraventricular neurosecretory cells during suckling in the rat.

By D W Lincoln and J B Wakerley


1. One hundred and thirty-two antidromically identified paraventricular (PV) and supraoptic (SO) neurones were studied during milk ejection evoked by the suckling of the young, in thirty-four lactating rats anaesthetized with urethane (1.1 g/kg I.P.). The spike activity of these neurones was analysed to determine some of the factors governing their orthodromic activation. Changes in spike activity were compared with the amount of oxytocin released from the neurohypophysis, as measured by the rise in intramammary pressure at milk ejection. 2. Sixty-five units, from both the PV and SO nuclei, displayed a characteristic burst of accelerated activity 12-18 sec before milk ejection. With a suckling stimulus of nine or ten pups, these neurosecretory responses were both regular in their occurrence (recurring evey 4-8 min) and uniform in character, i.e. all responsive cells accelerated to 30-80 spikes/sec for 1-4 sec. Two units deviated from this pattern and both were recorded in animals which failed to display a detectable milk ejection..

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