In order to investigate the significance of oxytocin in pregnancy and labor, oxytocin concentrations in plasma and cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) were determined using the specific radioimmunoassay. Plasma and CSF samples were obtained from 23 pregnant women (11 pre labor, 12 in labor), 15 nonpregnant women and 4 men at spinal puncture for anesthesia.
In males and nongravidas, CSF levels of oxytocin were significantly higher than plasma levels. Plasma levels in pregnant patients pre or in labor were significantly higher than those in nongravidas. No significant difference between CSF levels in prelabor gravidas (mean±SE, 9.7±1.5μu/ml) and nongravidas (10.1±1.2μu/ml) was found. However, CSF levels in gravidas in labor (18.6±2.3μu/ml) were significantly higher than the levels in prelabor gravidas.
These results strongly suggest that oxytocin levels in human plasma and CSF are controlled by different mechanisms and that the increased oxytocin could have some specific central actions.
The Japan Endocrine Society