Oxytocin inhibits ACTH and peripheral catecholamine secretion in the urethane-anesthetized rat

Daniel M. Gibbs

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15 Scopus citations


Oxytocin (OT) generally has a stimulatory effect on ACTH secretion both in vitro and in vivo. As part of a study of ACTH-releasing factors in hypophysial portal blood, the effects of i.v. OT administration on plasma ACTH levels were tested in urethane-anesthetized rats. Surprisingly, i.v. injection of 10 μg OT lowered plasma ACTH levels by about 35% (P < 0.01). It was reasoned that this paradoxical inhibition of ACTH secretion by OT might be mediated by inhibition of the unusually high rate of peripheral catecholamine secretion in this model. Measurement of plasma catecholamines before and after i.v. administration of 10 μg OT revealed a 53% inhibition of EPI (P < 0.01) and 43% inhibition of NE (P < 0.05). Administration of the β-adrenergic antagonist propranolol (400 μg) 15 min before the beginning of the experiment completely blocked the inhibitory effects of OT on ACTH secretion and in fact unmasked the stimulatory effects of OT normally seen in conscious animals and in vitro. Superfused bisected adrenal glands exposed to 10-6 M OT for 10 min secreted more than 30% less EPI and NE than control adrenals suggesting that the inhibition of EPI and NE secretion by OT in vivo occurs, at least in part, directly at the level of the adrenal. The data support the hypothesis that peripheral catecholamines may at times be directly involved in the control of ACTH secretion and also suggest that OT, which has recently been identified in the adrenal medulla, may have important paracrine functions in the regulation of adrenal catecholamine secretion.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)125-132
Number of pages8
JournalRegulatory Peptides
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 1986
Externally publishedYes


  • ACTH
  • epinephrine
  • norepinephrine
  • oxytocin

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Physiology
  • Endocrinology
  • Clinical Biochemistry
  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience


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