The effects of oestradiol, progesterone, oxytocin and combinations of these hormones on oxytocin receptor binding in explants of uteri from ovariectomized ewes were determined. Receptor binding remained unchanged after 96 h in culture in control medium. Oestradiol at concentrations of 1 pmol–10 μmol l−1 did not alter receptor binding activity in tissue cultured for 96 h, but at 100 μmol l−1 oestradiol significantly reduced (P < 0.01) receptor binding activity. Progesterone and oxytocin significantly reduced receptor binding activity in explants cultured for 96 h (P < 0.05). Explants cultured in medium containing progesterone and oestradiol or oxytocin and oestradiol showed receptor binding characteristics similar to those found in tissue cultured with progesterone or oxytocin alone. When explants were cultured for 72 h in medium containing oestradiol followed by 24 h in medium containing oestradiol alone, oestradiol with oxytocin, oestradiol with progesterone, oxytocin alone, progesterone alone, or in medium with no added hormones, receptor binding activity was always reduced in the presence of progesterone and oxytocin whether or not oestradiol was present in the medium. Receptor binding activity in explants cultured for the final 24 h in medium containing oestradiol or no added hormones were similar to those in tissue cultured in control medium for a total of 96 h. These data show that progesterone and oxytocin reduce oxytocin receptor binding activity in cultured uterine tissue and, in contrast to its effect on the rat uterus, that oestradiol is not a potent stimulator of oxytocin receptor synthesis in uterine tissue of ovariectomized ewes in vitro. These data also raise the possibility that post-receptor events resulting in increased secretion of prostaglandin F2α, rather than oxytocin receptor synthesis, are controlled by oestrogen in sheep.
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