The influence of striatal dopaminergic receptors on the inhibitory action of the striatum on the jaw opening reflex (JOR) was studied in anesthetized rats. Single unit activity was recorded at the subnucleus caudalis of the trigeminal nerve. Dopamine agonists and antagonists were microinjectd into the striatum. The striatal administration of apomorphine inhibits the JOR evoked by dental pulp stimulation. Similar results were observed by microinjections of quinpirole, an agonist of D2 receptors, but not by microinjection of SKF 38393, a D1 agonist. The effect of quinpirole was only inhibited by intrastriatal microinjection of haloperidol, a blocker of D2 receptors and reversed by systemic administration of 1 mg/kg of naloxone. The evoked neuronal responses in subnucleus caudalis, by tooth pulp stimulation, were also suppressed by microinjection of quinpirole into the striatum and reversed by naloxone (1 mg/kg, i.v.).
Based on the above results, we conclude that the activation of striatal D2 dopamine receptors is responsible for the inhibition of the JOR possibly by action on the subnucleus caudalis of the trigeminal nerve.