Many neurons express simultaneously two or more isotypes of glutamate receptors, so that pharmacological modulation of more than one receptor may be necessary to reveal the role of glutamate in mediating physiological processes. The present studies were aimed at evaluating involvement of endogenous glutamate in triggering plasma prolactin (PRL) and adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH) levels in response to three different stress stimuli (footshock, immobilization and ether stress). Blockade of glutamate receptor subtypes was achieved by the administration of the NMDA antagonist dizocilpine (MK-801, 0.2 mg/kg) and the selective AMPA antagonist GYKI 52466 (10 mg/kg). Rats were pretreated for 4–5 days and then exposed to stressful stimulation. Basal hormone levels were not affected by the antagonists. In male rats, combined, but not separate blockade of NMDA and AMPA/kainate subtypes of glutamate receptors prevented the rise in plasma PRL in response to footshock stress. In female rats, footshock-induced PRL release was inhibited even by separate blockade of NMDA receptors by dizocilpine, suggesting that the PRL system of females is more sensitive to the effect of NMDA antagonists than that of males. None of the treatments affected PRL release during immobilization or ether stress. Simultaneous blockade of NMDA and AMPA receptor subtypes resulted in a mild inhibition of immobilization-induced ACTH release without any effect on ACTH response to footshock or ether stress. The data suggest that involvement of glutamatergic pathways in neuroendocrine response during stress is selective for discrete stress stimuli and stress hormones. In addition a concerted action of glutamate on both NMDA and non-NMDA receptor subtypes is involved in the control of PRL release during footshock stress.

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