Effects of cholesterol manipulation on the signaling of the human oxytocin receptor

Alessandra Reversi, Valeria Rimoldi, Silvia Brambillasca, Bice Chini

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


We have recently shown that oxytocin inhibits cell growth when the vast majority of oxytocin receptors (OTRs) are excluded from detergent-resistant membranes (DRMs; the biochemical counterpart of lipid rafts), but has a strong mitogenic effect when the receptors are targeted to these plasma membrane domains upon fusion with caveolin-2, a resident raft protein. The aim of this study was to investigate whether the manipulation of total cell cholesterol can influence OTR localization and signaling. Our data indicate that cholesterol depletion in HEK-293 cells does not affect the signaling events mediated by the OTRs located outside DRMs. When treated with 2 mM methyl-β-cyclodextrin (MβCD), the receptors remained outside and continued to inhibit cell growth. On the contrary, the MβCD treatment of cells expressing receptors fused to caveolin-2 led to their redistribution outside DRMs, and converted the receptor-mediated proliferative effect into cell growth inhibition. These data indicate that 1) once released from DRMs, the receptors fused to caveolin-2 signal exactly as wild-type OTRs and 2) their DRM location is responsible for the specific OTR signaling leading to cell proliferation. Finally, we evaluated whether cholesterol loading could force the OTRs into lipid rafts and change their signaling, but, after cell treatment with an MβCD/cholesterol complex, receptor stimulation continued to lead to cell growth inhibition, thus indicating that increasing cell cholesterol levels is not sufficient per se to affect OTR signaling.

Original languageEnglish
JournalAmerican Journal of Physiology - Regulatory Integrative and Comparative Physiology
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2006


  • Lipid rafts
  • Neurohypophyseal hormones
  • Proliferation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology


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