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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2004 Aug 31;101(35):13074-9. Epub 2004 Aug 17.

Oxytocin in cardiac ontogeny.

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1
Centre de Recherche, Centre Hospitalier de l'Université de Montréal, Hôtel-Dieu, 3840 Rue Saint-Urbain, Montréal, QC, Canada H2W 1T8.

Abstract

Previous studies demonstrated the presence of oxytocin (OT) and oxytocin receptors (OTRs) in the heart. The present work provides results supporting a potential role of OT in cardiomyogenesis. Here, we show a maximal OT and OTR protein level in the developing rat heart at day 21 of gestation and postnatal days 1-4, when cardiac myocytes are at a stage of intense hyperplasia. Between postnatal days 1 and 66, OT decreased linearly in all heart chambers (4.1- to 6.6-fold). Correspondingly, immunocytochemistry demonstrated that OTRs, which were eminent in postnatal cardiomyocytes, declined with age to low levels in adults. Interestingly, in coronary vasculature, OTRs developed in endothelial cells at postnatal days 12 and 22 and achieved a plateau in adult rats. These findings suggest that OT can be involved in developmental formation of the coronary vessels. In vivo, the OT/OTR system in the fetal heart was sensitive to the actions of retinoic acid (RA), recognized as a major cardiac morphogen. RA treatment produced a significant increase (2- to 3-fold) both in the OT concentration and in the OT mRNA levels. Ex vivo, an OT antagonist inhibited RA-mediated cardiomyocyte differentiation of P19 embryonic stem cells. The decline of cardiac OT expression from infancy to adulthood of the rat and changes in cell types expressing OTR indicate a dynamic regulation of the OT system in the heart rather than constitutive expression. The results support the hypothesis that RA induces cardiomyogenesis by activation of the cardiac OT system.

PMID:
15316117
PMCID:
PMC516519
DOI:
10.1073/pnas.0405324101
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article
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