The concentration of oxytocin receptors increased in the myometrium of pregnant women and reached maximum levels in early labor. Concentrations of oxytocin receptors were also high in the decidua and reached a maximum at parturition. In vitro, prostaglandin production by the decidua, but not by the myometrium, was increased by the addition of oxytocin. Oxytocin may therefore stimulate uterine contractions by acting both directly on the myometrium and indirectly on decidual prostaglandin production. Oxytocin receptors are probably crucial for the onset of human labor, and the stimulus for the increase in uterine prostaglandins may be oxytocin originating from the fetus.

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