Oxytocin is expressed throughout the human gastrointestinal tract.

Bodil Ohlsson, Mikael Truedsson, Pauline Djerf, Frank Sundler

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Background/Aim: Several studies have described that oxytocin exerts stimulatory or inhibitory effects on gut functions. Recently, mRNA for oxytocin and its receptor was found throughout the entire human gastrointestinal (GI) tract. The aim of this study was to examine the cellular localization and distribution of the corresponding proteins. Material and methods: Full-thickness biopsies from 24 patients, covering the entire GI tract, were collected during operations at the Department of Surgery in Malmo and Lund. The biopsies were taken from non-affected margins. The biopsies were fixed by immersion, rinsed in buffered sucrose, and kept frozen at -70 degrees C. Indirect immunofluorescence with primary antibodies to oxytocin and its receptor was used. Results: Oxytocin was expressed in nerve cell bodies and nerve fibres in the myenteric and submucous ganglia all along the GI tract. Immunoreactive nerve cell bodies in myenteric ganglia predominated in the proximal (antrum and duodenum) and distal gut, while those in the submucous ganglia were more numerous in the ileum and colon. The oxytocin receptor was not detectable by two different antibodies in any tissue in the GI tract. Conclusion: Oxytocin is expressed in the myenteric and submucous ganglia and nerve fibres along the entire human GI tract. The role for oxytocin in the physiology and pathophysiology of the bowel remains to be settled. (c) 2006 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)7-11
JournalRegulatory Peptides
Issue number2006 May 4
Publication statusPublished - 2006

Bibliographical note

The information about affiliations in this record was updated in December 2015.
The record was previously connected to the following departments: Department of Clinical Sciences, Malmö (013240000), Surgery (Lund) (013009000), Neuroendocrine Cell Biology (013212008), Chronic Inflammatory and Degenerative Diseases Research Unit (013242530), Internal Medicine Research Unit (013242520)

Subject classification (UKÄ)

  • Cell and Molecular Biology


  • tract
  • immunohistochemistry
  • oxytocin
  • oxytocin receptor
  • gastrointestinal


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