Oxytocin receptors: triggers for parturition and lactation?

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Science  22 Jun 1979:
Vol. 204, Issue 4399, pp. 1313-1315
DOI: 10.1126/science.221972


Specific binding of tritiated oxytocin to uterine receptors of pregnant rats increases dramatically at term and is maximal during labor. In mammary glands the increase in binding is gradual, reaching a maximum during the lactation period. Concomitant changes in the sensitivity of the uterus and mammary gland to oxytocin indicate that the receptor concentration is of functional significance. Oxytocin receptors, therefore, may regulate the response of the target organs to circulating oxytocin and thereby control the onset of labor and lactation. Ovarian steroids participate in the regulation of oxytocin receptors in a manner as yet unclarified.