Molecular and cellular aspects of endometrial receptivity.
Endocrine and paracrine controls regulate the endometrium during the luteal phase of the cycle to permit implantation. Part of this differentiation process is the production of a specific secretion which fills the intrauterine cavity and glandular lumen. Its molecular composition originates from the gland secretion, from transudations from stroma, from the endometrial blood vessels, and last, but not least, from cellular components of apoptotic and exfoliated cells. We have studied the secretions of all phases during the menstrual cycle using patterns evaluated by SDS-PAGE, by laser densitometry or Western blots. Uterine secretion electrophoresis (USE) permits detailed analyses of the intrauterine micromilieu and allows clinical assessment of the receptive stage of endometrium during the luteal phase. Several individual protein bands have been defined as characteristic markers for such receptive pattern. We have isolated and identified the molecular structure of several of these proteins, e.g. histones, cyclophilin, transthyretin, haptoglobin and uteroglobin. Investigations on the endocrine regulation of these proteins, were carried out on the uterine secretions of patients treated with progesterone antagonists (mifepristone and onapristone). The results demonstrate how progesterone-dependent components produce a receptive pattern, which can serve as a useful and precise marker in the clinical diagnosis of the luteal phase. Essential progesterone-dependent components differentiating during the luteal phase may provide new targets for contraceptive interventions by preventing the physiological changes typical of receptivity. (+info)
Decreased apoptosis and sensitivity to macrophage mediated cytolysis of endometrial cells in endometriosis.
Ectopic dissemination of endometrial cells and their subsequent implantation are the mechanisms involved in the development of endometriosis. While the process of dissemination appears to be a phenomenon common to all women, it is unknown what facilitates or prevents ectopic implantation of misplaced endometrial cells. Prior studies by our group and others suggest that cell-mediated immunity in patients with endometriosis is decreased. The present studies evaluated (i) peripheral blood monocyte (PBM) and peritoneal macrophage (PM) mediated cytolysis of autologous eutopic and ectopic endometrial cells and (ii) programmed cell death (apoptosis) in the eutopic and ectopic endometrium. PBM-mediated cytolysis was (mean+/-SD) 23.1+/-13% for the eutopic and 7.8+/-% for the ectopic endometrium (P < 0.004), while the corresponding percentages for PM-mediated cytolysis were 5.4+/-7 and 0.3+/-1 respectively (P < 0.04). This indicates that PBM are much more effective than PM in inducing cytolysis of both eutopic and ectopic endometrium and that ectopic endometrial cells are significantly more resistant to both PBM- and PM-mediated cytolysis. The apoptosis was significantly decreased in the eutopic endometrium of women with endometriosis as compared to fertile controls (0.375+/-0.17 versus 1.57+/-0.3, P < 0.0001). Furthermore, in matched samples apoptosis was significantly lower in the ectopic (0.149+/-0.075) than eutopic (0.375+/-0.17) endometrium (P < 0.001). We conclude from these studies that the decrease in the capacity of monocytes to mediate cytolysis of the misplaced endometrial cells in the peritoneal locations and an increased resistance of these cells to apoptosis are fundamental to the aetiology and/or pathophysiology of endometriosis. (+info)
Phenotypic and functional studies of leukocytes in human endometrium and endometriosis.
The aetiology of endometriosis, a common and disabling disorder, is presently unknown, although immune dysfunction could allow ectopic endometrial fragments to survive outside the uterine cavity. These studies investigate the relationship between leukocyte populations, steroid hormone receptor expression, proliferative activity, bcl-2 expression and apoptosis in eutopic and ectopic endometrium from women with endometriosis or adenomyosis at different phases of the menstrual cycle. Significantly increased oestrogen receptor expression, bcl-2 expression and numbers of CD8+ leukocytes were found in ectopic compared with eutopic endometrium in endometriosis, and CD56+ endometrial granulated lymphocytes (eGLs) were significantly reduced in ectopic endometrium. Apoptotic cells were rarely found in control and subject endometria. In contrast with endometriosis, adenomyotic lesions showed identical steroid hormone receptor expression, proliferative activity, bcl-2 expression and leukocyte subpopulations to eutopic endometrium, indicating different aetiologies for these disorders. The unusual CD56+ CD16- eGLs present in large numbers in late secretory phase eutopic endometrium were highly purified (>98%) by immunomagnetic separation. Except for a negligible cytotoxic activity of eGLs from early proliferative samples, cytotoxic activity of eGLs from non-pregnant endometrium during the menstrual cycle was comparable with those in peripheral blood, predominantly CD56+ CD16+ natural killer cells. eGLs from non-pregnant endometrium and early pregnancy showed a variable proliferative response to 5 and 100 U/ml interleukin-2 over 48-h and 120-h time courses. eGLs are evidently functionally important in the eutopic endometrium. Their absence in endometriotic lesions together with increased CD+8 T-cell numbers and increased oestrogen receptor and bcl-2 expression may have significant effects on the development and progression of endometriosis. (+info)
Expression pattern of integrin adhesion molecules in endometriosis and human endometrium.
Integrins are cell adhesion molecules that undergo cell-specific dynamic changes during the normal menstrual cycle in the human endometrium. Here, using immunohistochemistry, we have investigated the expression pattern of the integrins alphav, alpha2beta1, alpha3beta1, alpha3, alpha6, beta1, beta2 and beta3 in the human ectopic endometrium of 30 patients and in nine cases in the corresponding eutopic endometrium. The biopsies were obtained during the early or late follicular phase (25 cases), during the corpus luteum phase (four cases) and in one case after 6 months' treatment with a gonadotrophin releasing hormone (GnRH) agonist. The integrin expression was independent of the ovarian steroid situation at the time of biopsy. The integrin alpha6 was expressed in all endometriotic and endometrium samples. The integrin alpha3 was absent in all endometrium tissues of patients with endometriosis. However, the corresponding endometriotic lesions re-expressed this adhesion molecule in 15 cases. No change in integrin beta3 expression pattern could be demonstrated in either endometriotic lesions or endometrium samples, regardless of the menstrual cycle phase. A correlation between serum oestradiol and progesterone concentrations and the expression of the investigated integrins was not observed, thus indicating that these two hormones play a minor role in the regulation of the cell adhesion molecules examined. Our investigation suggests that endometriosis is a dedifferentiated disease as it expressed different integrins in comparison with the eutopic endometrium, and independently of the hormonal situation. The ability of endometriotic tissues to express integrins may explain the high recurrence rates in patients with endometriosis, as these samples retain their adhesion potency after retrograde menstruation and are thus able to establish cell-cell and cell-matrix interactions with the surrounding peritoneum. (+info)
Paracrine changes in the peritoneal environment of women with endometriosis.
During the past decade, macrophage-derived substances such as prostanoids, cytokines, growth factors and angiogenic factors have been detected in the peritoneal fluid of women with endometriosis. In particular, growth-promoting and angiogenic factors are considered to be substantially involved in the pathogenesis of endometriosis. In this study, vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF), transforming growth factor beta (TGF-beta) and intercellular adhesion molecule 1 (ICAM-1), substances recently detected in the peritoneal fluid of women with endometriosis, were assessed with regard to their concentrations in different stages of endometriosis and changes of the peritoneal paracrine activity after medical treatment with a gonadotrophin releasing hormone agonist (GnRHa). Peritoneal fluid was obtained from patients with endometriosis during laparoscopy before and after a 4-month treatment with a GnRHa. VEGF, TGF-beta and ICAM-1 could be detected in all women presenting with various stages of active endometriosis. After GnRHa therapy, all patients showed significant decreases in mean concentrations of VEGF (194+/-77 pg/ml), TGF-beta (902+/-273 pg/ml) and ICAM-1 (157+/-52 ng/ml). Patients with stage III and IV endometriosis (according to the rAFS score) had much higher concentrations of VEGF and TGF-beta before treatment compared with those patients with mild endometriosis (rAFS stages I and II). The most striking decrease in concentration was for TGF-beta, from 902 pg/ml before to 273 pg/ml after therapy. These results indicate an important role for paracrine activity in the establishment and maintenance of endometriosis. Indeed, treatment with a GnRHa may reduce paracrine activity in the peritoneal cavity via hypo-oestrogenism and provide proof of successful therapy. (+info)
Tracing cellular and molecular mechanisms involved in endometriosis.
The aetiology and pathogenesis of endometriosis, defined as the presence of endometrium-like tissue outside the uterine cavity, is largely unknown. In this paper we present and discuss possibilities to study the putative pathogenic properties of endometriotic cells in vitro. The current focus of our investigations is on the invasive phenotype of the disease, assuming that this might contribute to the pathogenesis of endometriosis. So far, we have shown that: (i) cytokeratin-positive and E-cadherin-negative endometriotic cells have an invasive phenotype in a collagen invasion assay in vitro similar to metastatic carcinoma cells; (ii) the invasiveness of endometriotic but not of eutopic endometrial cells can be stimulated by a heat-stable protein present in peritoneal fluid; and (iii) the endometriotic cell line EEC145T, which we established, may be a useful tool for the identification of gene products which are, positively or negatively, invasion-related. Finally, our studies suggest that the invasive phenotype in endometriosis shares aspects with tumour metastasis, but might also have unique mechanisms. (+info)
Extracellular matrix remodelling in the endometrium and its possible relevance to the pathogenesis of endometriosis.
Essential features of endometrial physiology involve the extracellular matrix (ECM). In the pathogenesis of endometriosis, interactions of endometriosis cells with ECM can be postulated. Two systems of secreted proteases in the endometrium, the plasmin(ogen) activator/inhibitor and the matrix metalloproteinases and their inhibitors were examined in cell cultures of uterine endometrial cells from women with and without endometriosis. Soluble urokinase receptor secretion is increased, and mRNA transcription of tissue inhibitor of metalloproteinases-2 (TIMP-2) is upregulated by progestin in endometriosis. These findings are compatible with an altered ECM turnover in the endometrium of these patients that may explain a higher invasive potential of retrogradely menstruated endometrial fragments. (+info)
Angiogenesis: a new theory for endometriosis.
Excessive endometrial angiogenesis is proposed as an important mechanism in the pathogenesis of endometriosis. Evidence is reviewed for the hypothesis that the endometrium of women with endometriosis has an increased capacity to proliferate, implant and grow in the peritoneal cavity. Data is summarized indicating that the endometrium of patients with endometriosis shows enhanced endothelial cell proliferation. Results are also reviewed indicating that the cell adhesion molecule integrin alphavbeta3 is expressed in more blood vessels in the endometrium of women with endometriosis when compared with normal women. Taken together, these results provide evidence for increased endometrial angiogenesis in women with endometriosis when compared with normal subjects. Endometriosis is one of the family of angiogenic diseases. Other angiogenic diseases include solid tumours, rheumatoid arthritis, psoriasis and diabetic retanopathy. Excessive endometrial angiogenesis suggests novel new medical treatments for endometriosis aimed at the inhibition of angiogenesis. (+info)