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J Reprod Fertil. 1999 Mar;115(2):389-95.

Regulation of bcl-2 gene family members in human endometrium by antiprogestin administration in vivo.

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  • 1Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, University of Edinburgh, UK.


It is likely that the changes which occur in the endometrium throughout the menstrual cycle involve apoptosis, and that expression of associated genes, such as the bcl-2 family, are regulated by sex steroids. The aim of this study was to investigate the presence of bcl-2, Bax and oestrogen receptor proteins in secretory endometrium collected from ten patients with normal ovulatory cycles 4 or 6 days after the LH surge, and on the same days in a subsequent cycle in which the formation of secretory changes was inhibited by the administration of the antiprogestin mifepristone (RU486) 2 days after the onset of the LH surge. Since some stromal cells display positive immunoreactivity, leucocyte subpopulations of macrophages (CD68-positive) and large granular lymphocytes (CD56-positive) were identified in serial sections. After administration of mifepristone on day 2 after the LH surge, a significant increase in bcl-2 immunoreactivity was observed in glandular and surface epithelium. A positive correlation (0.874) with nuclear oestrogen receptor immunoreactivity in endometrial glands was demonstrated. Subsets of stromal cells, identified as CD68-positive macrophages and CD56-positive large granular lymphocytes displayed positive immunoreactivity for the bcl-2 epitope, which was unaffected by mifepristone administration. Bax immunostaining was similar in control and antiprogestin-treated endometrium. These data indicate that antiprogestin administration inhibits progesterone downregulation of steroid receptors in endometrial glands, resulting in persistence of a proliferative endometrium and accompanying bcl-2 secretion.

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