Identification, localization and functional in vitro and in vivo activity of oxytocin receptor in the rat penis
by
Zhang XH, Filippi S, Vignozzi L, Morelli A, Mancina R,
Luconi M, Donati S, Marini M, Vannelli GB, Forti G, Maggi M.
Andrology Unit, Department of Clinical Physiopathology,
University of Florence, 50139 Florence, Italy
J Endocrinol. 2005 Mar;184(3):567-76


ABSTRACT

We recently found that the oxytocin receptor (OTR) is expressed in the human and rabbit corpus cavernosum and mediates contractility in vitro. The present study extended our investigations to the rat, and explored whether OTR regulates penile detumescence in vivo. Real-time RT-PCR quantitatively characterized the distribution of OTR mRNA in the male genital tract. Specific transcripts for OTR were expressed in all the tissues investigated. Penile expression of OTR was comparable to that observed in testis and prostate. Western blot analysis detected a single band of the expected molecular mass for OTR in all tissues examined, including rat penis. Expression of OTR protein in rat penile extracts was further confirmed by binding studies, using the OTR selective radiolabeled ligand (125)I-OTA (K(d)=17 +/- 6.5 pM, B(max)=15.7 +/- 5 fmoles/mg protein). OTR was immunolocalized to the endothelial and smooth muscle compartments of cavernous spaces and blood vessels. In rat corpus cavernosum strips, oxytocin (OT) and an OTR selective agonist ([Thr(4),Gly(7)]OT) induced identical increases in tension, while different vasopressin agonists were less active. In vivo, OT intra-cavernous injection (ICI) dose-dependently inhibited intracavernous pressure (ICP) increase elicited by either electrical stimulation of the cavernous nerve or ICI of papaverine with similar IC(50)s (117.7 +/- 37 mU). The OTR antagonist, atosiban, counteracted the contractile effect of OT both in vitro and in vivo. Atosiban alone significantly increased ICP at lower stimulation frequencies (2 Hz=P<0.001 and 4 Hz=P<0.05 vs control), but not at the maximal frequency (16 Hz). Our data showed that OTR is present in the rat penis and mediates contractility both in vitro and in vivo, therefore suggesting a role for OT in maintaining penile detumescence.
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