Brahman cows with known breeding dates received i.v. injections of either 10 or 100 IU oxytocin (OT) on Days 50, 150, 250, or 280 of gestation (n = 6 for each stage). Concentrations of the prostaglandin (PG) F2 alpha metabolite, 13,14-dihydro-15-keto-prostaglandin (PGFM), and OT were measured in samples of peripheral plasma collected at 15-min intervals for 1 h before and 1 h after treatment and then at 30-min intervals for 3 h. Plasma progesterone was measured daily for 14 days after OT injections on Days 50 and 250 of gestation. The increase in plasma OT after injection was dose-dependent (p = 0.001) but not affected by stage of gestation. Plasma PGFM increased after OT in a dose- and stage-dependent manner (p = 0.0001). At Day 280, the increase in plasma PGFM after 100 IU OT was sevenfold greater than at Day 50. Plasma progesterone declined significantly during the 7th to 12th days postinjection and returned to normal pregnancy values by the 14th day (4.4 +/- 0.3 ng/ml) except in two cows treated on Day 50 of gestation that later aborted. In these, plasma progesterone was significantly lower, 2.6 +/- 0.1 ng/ml. In a second experiment, the concentration of OT receptors was determined in endometrium collected from purebred Angus or Hereford cows slaughtered on Days 50, 150, 250, and 280 of gestation (n = 3 or 4 at each stage). Endometrial concentrations of OT receptor changed as a function of gestational age, increasing sixfold from Day 50 to Day 280, which was parallel to the increase by OT of plasma PGFM. Thus, endometrial OT receptors are functionally coupled to PGF2 alpha release during pregnancy, and their concentration determines the magnitude of OT-induced PGF2 alpha release during gestation. Consequently, endogenous OT is a factor in the regulation of PGF2 alpha release from the bovine uterus during pregnancy and parturition.
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