Prostaglandin production by rat vaginal tissue, in vitro, in response to ethanol, a mild mucosal irritant.
Toxicological testing of vaginal irritants currently involves in vivo testing in rabbits. While chemical-induced irritation or inflammation involves numerous biologic responses, these responses appear to be to a large extent mediated by prostaglandin release. Since vaginal tissue of the rat produces prostaglandins, this tissue was studied in vitro to determine if it would respond to ethanol, a mild irritant. Small vaginal segments were rinsed in Krebs-Ringer bicarbonate buffer (pH 7.0) and exposed to various concentrations of ethanol. The segments were then transferred to fresh buffer and incubated for 30 min in a shaking 37 degrees C water bath. Ethanol (70%) exposure for 30 sec increased prostaglandin E2 and F2 alpha production by vaginal tissue. While ethanol exposure resulted in increases in prostaglandin production regardless of the stage of the cycle from which the tissue was derived, the relative increase was greatest in tissues from the diestrous stage of the cycle. The prostaglandin production response of vaginal tissue, and of cervical and uterine tissue, was related to the concentration of ethanol to which these tissues were exposed. Indomethacin blocked this response in a dose-dependent manner. These experiments demonstrate that vaginal tissue responds to ethanol by increasing production of PGF2 alpha and PGE2. This in vitro system may prove useful as an alternative to live-animal testing in the screening of irritants of the vaginal mucosa or other tissues as well.