Low-Dose Quinpirole Ontogenically Sensitizes to Quinpirole-Induced Yawning in Rats

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It is known that dopamine (DA) receptors can be sensitized by repeated treatments with quinpirole during postnatal development. This study was undertaken to determine whether low-dose quinpirole treatments might sensitize receptors to quinpirole-induced yawning behavior. Rats were treated with quinpirole HCl (50 μg/kg per day) or saline at four different periods of ontogeny: a) the 10th day of gestation to day of birth; b) 1st-11th days after birth; c) 12th-22nd days from birth; or d) 23rd-33rd days from birth. The numbers of yawns occuring in 1 h after a challenge dose of quinpirole HCl (50 μg/kg, IP) was determined at 6 weeks. Rats exposed prenatally to quinpirole demonstrated increased numbers of yawns following the third dose of quinpirole (2-day interval between doses). In rats exposed postnatally to quinpirole, there was a 70-300% increase in the yawning response, with the greatest response occuring in the group treated with quinpirole from birth to 11 days from birth. The findings demonstrate that quinpirole receptors are sensitized by a low dose of quinpirole, 60-fold lower than previously shown. It is suggested that sensitized receptors are of the DA D3 subclass.