Rationale: Dopamine agonists elevate locomotion, sniffing, grooming, and a number of other behaviors. However, the D2 family (D2/D3/D4) agonist quinpirole, across a wide dose range, produces a period of locomotor inhibition that precedes the drug's locomotor excitatory effects.
Objectives: The present study asked whether the suppressive actions of quinpirole also extend to other aspects of spontaneous behavior, such as sniffing, rearing and grooming, or whether this suppression of locomotion occurs while the frequency of other behaviors is increased or unaffected.
Methods: Locomotion, sniffing, rearing and grooming were observed over a 150-min test session in rats treated with 0, 0.1, 0.5, 1.0, or 10.0 mg/kg quinpirole.
Results: At 0.1 mg/kg, quinpirole suppressed locomotion. Higher doses (0.5-10.0 mg/kg) produced locomotor suppression followed by locomotor excitation. During the period of locomotor suppression, quinpirole also reduced the frequency of rearing and grooming. However, animals under high doses (1 and 10 mg/kg) of quinpirole showed elevated sniffing during the period of locomotor, rear and groom suppression.
Conclusions: These results demonstrate that the well-documented locomotor suppression that precedes quinpirole's excitatory locomotor actions occurs in the midst of active sniffing. These results suggest that the suppressive effects of quinpirole on locomotion do not reflect a state of general behavioral suppression.