Oxytocin pretreatment attenuates oxytocin-induced contractions in human myometrium in vitro

Anesthesiology. 2013 Sep;119(3):552-61. doi: 10.1097/ALN.0b013e318297d347.


Background: Oxytocin receptor desensitization has been shown to occur in humans at biomolecular level and in isolated rat myometrium; however, its effect on human myometrial contractility has not been demonstrated. The objective of this in vitro study was to investigate the contractile response of human pregnant myometrium to oxytocin after pretreatment with different concentrations of oxytocin for variable durations.

Methods: Myometrial samples were obtained from 62 women undergoing elective cesarean deliveries under regional anesthesia. The strips were pretreated with oxytocin 10, 10, 10 M, or physiological salt solution (control) for 2, 4, 6, or 12 h, followed by a dose-response testing with oxytocin 10 to 10 M. Amplitude and frequency of contractions, motility index, and area under the curve during the dose-response period were recorded, analyzed with linear regression models, and compared among groups.

Results: Pretreatment with oxytocin 10 and 10 M significantly reduced motility index (estimate [standard error]: -0.771 [0.270] square root units, P = 0.005 and -0.697 [0.293], P = 0.02, respectively) and area under the curve (-3.947 [1.909], P = 0.04 and -4.241 [2.189], P = 0.05, respectively) compared with control group, whereas pretreatment with oxytocin 10 M did not significantly attenuate contractions. Increase in duration of oxytocin pretreatment from 2 to 12 h significantly decreased amplitude (type 3 generalized estimating equation analysis: chi-square = 14.0; df = 3; P = 0.003), motility index (chi-square = 9.3; df = 3; P = 0.03), and area under the curve (chi-square = 10.5; df = 3; P = 0.02), but not the frequency of oxytocin-induced contractions.

Conclusion: Pretreatment with oxytocin decreases oxytocin-induced myometrial contractions in a concentration and time-dependent manner, likely as a function of the oxytocin receptor desensitization phenomenon.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Area Under Curve
  • Dose-Response Relationship, Drug
  • Female
  • Humans
  • In Vitro Techniques
  • Oxytocics / pharmacology*
  • Oxytocin / pharmacology*
  • Pregnancy
  • Time Factors
  • Uterine Contraction / drug effects*


  • Oxytocics
  • Oxytocin