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Biol Reprod. 2001 Jan;64(1):272-83.

Regulation of progesterone receptors and decidualization in uterine stroma of the estrogen receptor-alpha knockout mouse.

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  • 1Departments of Anatomy and Urology, University of California, San Francisco, California 94143, USA.


Regulation of progesterone receptor (PR) in uterine stroma (endometrial stroma plus myometrium) by estrogen was investigated in estrogen receptor-alpha (ERalpha) knockout (alphaERKO) mice. 17 beta-Estradiol (E(2)) increased PR levels in uterine stroma of ovariectomized alphaERKO mice, and ICI 182 780 (ICI) inhibited this E(2)-induced PR expression. Estrogen receptor-beta(ER beta) was detected in both uterine epithelium and stroma of wild-type and alphaERKO mice by immunohistochemistry. In organ cultures of alphaERKO uterus, both E(2) and diethylstilbestrol induced stromal PR, and ICI inhibited this induction. These findings suggest that estrogen induces stromal PR via ERbeta in alphaERKO uterus. However, this process is not mediated exclusively by ERbeta+, because in ERbeta knockout mice, which express ERalpha, PR was up-regulated by E(2) in uterine stroma. In both wild-type and alphaERKO mice, progesterone and mechanical traumatization were essential and sufficient to induce decidual cells, even though E(2) and ERalpha were also required for increase in uterine weight. Progesterone receptor was strongly expressed in decidual cells in alphaERKO mice, and ICI did not inhibit decidualization or PR expression. This study suggests that up-regulation of PR in endometrial stroma is mediated through at least three mechanisms: 1) classical estrogen signaling through ERalpha, 2) estrogen signaling through ERbeta, and 3) as a result of mechanical stimulation plus progesterone, which induces stromal cells to differentiate into decidual cells. Each of these pathways can function independently of the others.

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