The localization of oxytocin (OT)-binding sites in the developing rat kidney and their pharmacological characterization were investigated by means of autoradiographic techniques. The cellular localization was studied by application of the histoautoradiographic technique to (1) frozen sections and semithin sections from kidney slices incubated in vitro in the presence of a 125I-labelled OT antagonist and (2) frozen and semithin sections from kidneys after in vivo systemic infusion of the radioligand. Pharmacological characteristics were determined in competition experiments by using quantitative film autoradiography.
Specific OT-binding sites were first detected at embryonic day 17 (E17) in the cortex. At early stages up to postnatal days (PN30), the cortical OT-binding sites were highly concentrated on the juxta- and paraglomerular portion of the distal tubule; in the adult they were restricted to the macula densa. In the medulla, OT-binding sites were first detected at E19 when this region is forming; they were localized on the thin limb of Henle's loop. These data obtained by in vitro binding were confirmed by in vivo binding at PN30 which showed, in addition, the presence in one rat of OT-binding sites in the inner stripe of the outer medulla.
At all stages examined (PN15 to PN90), cortical OT-binding sites had a higher selectivity for OT versus vasopressin (IC50=0·78 ± 0·04 nm and 8 ± 0·5 nm respectively at PN90) than medullary sites (IC50= 1·9 ± 0·27 nm and 2±1·13 nm respectively at PN90). These data suggest that the OT-binding sites of the macula densa and thin Henle's loop, detected in the rat kidney, represent two subtypes of OT receptors which could mediate distinct effects of OT on kidney function.