Oxytocin Receptor Expression But a Lack of Response to Oxytocin in Airway Tissues

Jibriil Ibrahim; Michelle McIntosh; Rob Bischof

Postpartum haemorrhage, the uncontrollable loss of blood after labour, is one of the greatest contributors to maternal mortality in the developing world due to poor availability of oxytocin, a nonapeptide uterotonic considered the ‘gold standard’ treatment for inducing uterine contractility and stemming blood loss. This poor availability is primarily due to restrictions in cold chain storage and access to clean needles. We recently showed that pulmonary delivery of a stable, spray-dried formulation of oxytocin is a viable alternative to traditional parenteral routes of administration for the induction of uterine contractility [1]. While the role and relationship between oxytocin and its receptor have previously been investigated in reproductive systems, little is known about the mechanisms of action in the airways. With pulmonary delivery of oxytocin set to become a future treatment option in remote areas, the ramifications of exogenous oxytocin within the respiratory system needs to be understood. The aim of this study was to examine oxytocin receptor (OXTR) expression in airway and uterine tissues in non-pregnant sheep, and to assess responses to oxytocin ex vivo and following pulmonary administration in vivo. We hypothesised that inhalation of oxytocin would have no adverse effect on respiratory function and that oxytocin would not induce changes to airway morphology nor induce an inflammatory response.

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