Nitric oxide is involved in the ACTH-induced behavioral syndrome

Peptides. 1995;16(7):1263-8. doi: 10.1016/0196-9781(95)02014-n.


In many animal species, the ICV injection of ACTH and of several shorter sequences of the ACTH molecule (melanocortin peptides) induces a peculiar behavioral syndrome mainly characterized by excessive grooming and by repeated acts of stretching and yawning. In adult males, spontaneous penile erections with ejaculation are also induced. We have studied the effect of NO synthase inhibition on this behavioral syndrome. The IP injection of the NO synthase inhibitor L-NG-nitroarginine methyl ester (NAME) significantly prevented--at the doses of 50 and 100 mg/kg--all the behavioral symptoms induced by the ICV administration of ACTH(1-24) (4 micrograms/rat). On the other hand, the ICV injection of NAME (up to 300 micrograms/rat) had no influence on the ACTH-induced excessive grooming and stretching, while significantly inhibited the display of yawnings and penile erections. These data indicate that brain NO synthase is involved in the mechanism of ACTH-induced yawning and penile erections, whereas peripheral NO synthase is involved in the induction of stretching and grooming.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Arginine / analogs & derivatives
  • Arginine / pharmacology
  • Behavior, Animal / drug effects*
  • Behavior, Animal / physiology*
  • Cosyntropin / pharmacology*
  • Enzyme Inhibitors / pharmacology
  • Grooming / drug effects
  • Grooming / physiology
  • Male
  • NG-Nitroarginine Methyl Ester
  • Nitric Oxide / metabolism*
  • Nitric Oxide Synthase / antagonists & inhibitors
  • Nitric Oxide Synthase / metabolism*
  • Penile Erection / drug effects
  • Penile Erection / physiology
  • Rats
  • Rats, Wistar
  • Syndrome
  • Yawning / drug effects
  • Yawning / physiology


  • Enzyme Inhibitors
  • Cosyntropin
  • Nitric Oxide
  • Arginine
  • Nitric Oxide Synthase
  • NG-Nitroarginine Methyl Ester