Specific radioimmunoassays were used to measure the effects of hypertonic saline (salt loading), water deprivation, and trichothecene mycotoxin (T2 toxin) on the content of methionine enkephalin (ME), leucine enkephalin (LE), alpha-neoendorphin, dynorphin A, dynorphin B, vasopressin, and oxytocin in the rat posterior pituitary. Concentrations of vasopressin and oxytocin decreased in response to both osmotic stimuli and treatment with T2 toxin, but the decrease was greater with osmotic stimulations. Similarly, concentrations of LE and dynorphin-related peptides declined after salt loading and water deprivation; LE concentrations also decreased after treatment with T2 toxin. The concentration of ME decreased after water deprivation, did not change after salt loading, and increased after T2 toxin treatment. The differentiating effects of these stimuli on the content of immunoreactive LE and ME are consistent with the hypothesis that LE and ME may be localized in separate populations of nerve endings with different roles in the posterior pituitary.

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