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  • Author: M. Y. DAWOOD x
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F S Khan-Dawood, J Yang, K Anwer, and M Y Dawood


Oxytocin has been identified in both non-human primate and human corpora lutea of the menstrual cycle by RIA, immunocytochemistry and HPLC. Evidence for the transcription of the oxytocin gene in this tissue using PCR is available. Oxytocin receptors have been characterized by biochemical procedures. However, there is some debate as to whether the oxytocin identified in these tissues is biologically active and has a role in luteal function. In this study we have demonstrated that oxytocin isolated by gel chromatography of tissue extracts from the baboon and the human corpus luteum is biologically active as determined in a rat uterine bioassay. Since both oxytocin and its receptors are present in these tissues, it is suggested that oxytocin in the human and non-human primate corpora lutea has a functional role.

Journal of Endocrinology (1995) 147, 525–532

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The effects of mating on plasma levels of oxytocin and prolactin in male and female rabbits have been investigated. Blood was collected through indwelling cardiac catheters at intervals of 1, 2, 4, 6, 12, 24, 36 and 60 min after mating. In female rabbits additional samples were taken 5 h after mating, as well as daily during the ensuing pregnancy or pseudopregnancy. They were also fitted with intrauterine balloons for recording uterine activity. Copulation induced a rapid, transient rise in plasma oxytocin in female rabbits at the same time as a fall in plasma prolactin. Mating or sexual excitement had no significant effect on plasma concentrations of oxytocin or prolactin in bucks. Relatively large fluctuations of plasma oxytocin were seen in male rabbits under normal conditions and after mating, suggesting episodic release of oxytocin in a random fashion. The uterine recordings indicated that, in spite of the modest release of oxytocin, a strong sympathetic adrenal activation occurred in response to mating and this provided the overriding influence on uterine activity. During pregnancy plasma levels of prolactin rose significantly on day 4, and remained raised throughout most of gestation. Plasma prolactin fluctuated widely during the first half of pregnancy but the mean levels were higher than those found during the second half of gestation. When pseudopregnancy was induced with injection of an ovulating dose of LH, plasma prolactin rose in a similar manner as during early gestation or mating-induced pseudopregnancy. Thus, in contrast to rats, stimuli associated with mating have no direct influence on the subsequent release of prolactin in rabbits. The secretion of prolactin during gestation seems to be controlled entirely by ovarian steroids, probably progesterone.

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The evaluation of a radioimmunoassay of oxytocin is described. The method involved careful collection and transportation of blood at 4 °C, acidification of the plasma, extraction with Fuller's earth and radioimmunoassay using antisera raised in rabbits immunized against oxytocin conjugated to bovine serum albumin and 125I-labelled oxytocin. The antisera showed insignificant cross-reaction with a variety of small peptides including vasopressin and vasotocin. The limit of detection of the assay was 2·5 pg with intra-assay and interassay coefficients of variation of 7–15% and 12–18% respectively. Seventy-seven per cent (88 out of 116) of the pregnant women tested had detectable maternal plasma oxytocin. Serial samples of maternal plasma showed a significant increase in oxytocin from the first to the second stage of labour and a significant decrease in the third stage. Oxytocin concentrations in the umbilical arterial plasma were significantly higher in patients in labour. The significance of these findings is discussed.