We investigated the type of receptors involved in the mechanism of action of dopamine on corticosteroid secretion from the frog interrenal (adrenal) gland, using the in-vitro perifusion technique. Exposure of dispersed interrenal cells to 50 μm dopamine for 20 min had a biphasic effect on corticosterone and aldosterone secretion, i.e. a transient stimulation followed by an inhibitory phase. Repeated administration of equimolar pulses of dopamine, given at 150-min intervals, resulted in an enhancement of corticosteroid secretion followed by a subsequent blockade of the stimulatory phase of the response. In contrast, the dopamine-evoked inhibition of corticosteroid release did not show any sensitization or desensitization phenomena. Infusion of repeated pulses of the D1 receptor agonist SKF38393 (32 μm) stimulated corticosteroid release and mimicked the sensitization-desensitization phenomenon induced by dopamine. Repeated administration of the D2 receptor agonist LY171555 (50μm) resulted in a reproducible inhibition of corticosterone and aldosterone secretion. These results suggested the presence of two different receptors for dopamine, i.e. D1 and D2, on frog adrenocortical cells, responsible respectively for the stimulatory and inhibitory effects of dopamine on steroid secretion. However, bromocriptine (50 μm) and CV205-502 (50 μm), two other D2 receptor agonists, had no effect on corticosteroid release. In addition, several classical D2 receptor antagonists failed to block the effect of dopamine on steroidogenesis. It was also observed that (−)sulpiride, a specific D2 antagonist, did not alter dopamine-induced inhibition of inositol phosphate formation. On the other hand, dopamine and the selective D1 and D2 agonists SKF38393 and LY171555 did not affect the formation of cyclic AMP by interrenal tissue.
Taken together, these data indicate that dopamine directly regulates corticosteroid secretion from frog adrenocortical cells. The effect of dopamine is not coupled to adenylate cyclase activity but is probably mediated through the phosphoinositide-turnover pathway. The pharmacological characteristics of the receptors involved in the mechanism of action of dopamine clearly differ from those of the D1 and D2 subtypes previously described in mammals.