Oxytocin-induced penile erection and yawning: role of calcium and prostaglandins

Pharmacol Biochem Behav. 1990 Mar;35(3):601-5. doi: 10.1016/0091-3057(90)90297-u.


The effect of verapamil, flunarizine, nimodipine, nicardipine, and nifedipine, calcium channel inhibitors, and of indomethacin and aspirin, inhibitors of prostaglandin synthesis, on penile erection and yawning induced by oxytocin was studied in male rats. All calcium channel inhibitors given intraperitoneally (IP) 60 min before the intracerebroventricular (ICV) injection of oxytocin (30 ng) prevented in a dose-dependent manner oxytocin effect. Nimodipine and nicardipine were the most effective being active at doses between 5 and 20 mg/kg, while the others were active at doses higher than 15 mg/kg. Prevention of oxytocin effect was also seen after ICV injection of the above compounds. Unlike calcium channel inhibitors, indomethacin given either IP (10 and 50 mg/kg) or ICV (50 micrograms), or aspirin (100 mg/kg IP) were ineffective. Microinjection of calcium, but not of prostaglandin E2 and prostaglandin F2 alpha in the paraventricular nucleus of the hypothalamus, the brain area most sensitive for the induction of the above behavioral responses by oxytocin, induced a symptomatology similar to that induced by oxytocin. The present results suggest that calcium might be the second messenger which mediates the expression of penile erection and yawning induced by oxytocin.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Calcium / physiology*
  • Calcium Channel Blockers / pharmacology*
  • Dose-Response Relationship, Drug
  • Injections, Intraperitoneal
  • Injections, Intraventricular
  • Male
  • Nicardipine / pharmacology
  • Nimodipine / pharmacology
  • Oxytocin / pharmacology*
  • Penile Erection / drug effects*
  • Prostaglandins / pharmacology
  • Prostaglandins / physiology*
  • Rats
  • Rats, Inbred Strains
  • Second Messenger Systems*
  • Yawning / drug effects*


  • Calcium Channel Blockers
  • Prostaglandins
  • Oxytocin
  • Nimodipine
  • Nicardipine
  • Calcium