Oxytocin receptor antagonists as a novel pharmacological agent for reducing smooth muscle tone in the human prostate

Sophie N. Lee, Jenna Kraska, Melissa Papargiris, Linda Teng, Birunthi Niranjan, Johanna Hammar, Andrew Ryan, Mark Frydenberg, Nathan Lawrentschuk, Ralf Middendorff, Stuart J. Ellem, Michael Whittaker, Gail P. Risbridger, Betty Exintaris

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review


Pharmacotherapies for the treatment of Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia (BPH) are targeted at reducing cellular proliferation (static component) or reducing smooth muscle tone (dynamic component), but response is unpredictable and many patients fail to respond. An impediment to identifying novel pharmacotherapies is the incomplete understanding of paracrine signalling. Oxytocin has been highlighted as a potential paracrine mediator of BPH. To better understand oxytocin signalling, we investigated the effects of exogenous oxytocin on both stromal cell proliferation, and inherent spontaneous prostate contractions using primary models derived from human prostate tissue. We show that the Oxytocin Receptor (OXTR) is widely expressed in the human prostate, and co-localises to contractile cells within the prostate stroma. Exogenous oxytocin did not modulate prostatic fibroblast proliferation, but did significantly (p < 0.05) upregulate the frequency of spontaneous contractions in prostate tissue, indicating a role in generating smooth muscle tone. Application of atosiban, an OXTR antagonist, significantly (p < 0.05) reduced spontaneous contractions. Individual tissue responsiveness to both exogenous oxytocin (R2 = 0.697, p < 0.01) and atosiban (R2 = 0.472, p < 0.05) was greater in tissue collected from older men. Overall, our data suggest that oxytocin is a key regulator of inherent spontaneous prostate contractions, and targeting of the OXTR and associated downstream signalling is an attractive prospect in the development of novel BPH pharmacotherapies.

Original languageEnglish
Article number6352
Number of pages11
JournalScientific Reports
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2021

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