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  • Activation of mu or delta opioid receptors in the lumbosacral spinal cord is essential for ejaculatory reflexes in male rats.

Activation of mu or delta opioid receptors in the lumbosacral spinal cord is essential for ejaculatory reflexes in male rats.

PloS one (2015-04-01)
Natalie Kozyrev, Lique M Coolen
ABSTRACT

Ejaculation is controlled by a spinal ejaculation generator located in the lumbosacral spinal cord, consisting in male rats of lumbar spinothalamic (LSt) cells and their inter-spinal projections to autonomic and motor centers. LSt cells co-express several neuropeptides, including gastrin releasing peptide (GRP) and enkephalin. We previously demonstrated in rats that GRP regulates ejaculation by acting within the lumbosacral spinal cord. In the present study, the hypothesis was tested that enkephalin controls ejaculation by acting on mu (MOR) or delta opioid receptors (DOR) in LSt target areas. Adult male rats were anesthetized and spinalized and received intrathecal infusions of vehicle, MOR antagonist CTOP (0.4 or 4 nmol), DOR antagonist (TIPP (0.4, 4 or 40 nmol), MOR agonist DAMGO (0.1 or 10 nmol), or DOR agonist deltorphin II (1.3 or 13 nmol). Ejaculatory reflexes were triggered by stimulation of the dorsal penile nerve (DPN) and seminal vesicle pressure and rhythmic contractions of the bulbocavernosus muscle were analyzed. Intrathecal infusion of MOR or DOR antagonists effectively blocked ejaculatory reflexes induced by DPN stimulation. Intrathecal infusion of DAMGO, but not deltorphin II triggered ejaculation in absence of DPN stimulation. Both MOR and DOR agonists facilitated ejaculatory reflexes induced by subthreshold DPN stimulation in all animals. Overall, these results support the hypothesis that enkephalin plays a critical role in the control of ejaculation in male rats. Activation of either MOR or DOR in LSt target areas is required for ejaculation, while MOR activation is sufficient to trigger ejaculation in the absence of sensory stimulation.

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