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Reproduction. 2006 Jul;132(1):1-10.

Large-scale gene expression studies of the endometrium: what have we learnt?

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  • 1Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, The Rosie Hospital, Robinson Way, Cambridge CB2 2SW, UK.


The endometrium is a dynamic tissue that undergoes coordinated changes under the influence of steroid hormones. This results in proliferation and differentiation culminating in a receptive state, followed by menstruation and endometrial repair. These functions involve complex interactions between the epithelium, stroma and leucocytes in the endometrium. Understanding the underlying causes of endometrial disorders, such as infertility, endometriosis and heavy menstrual bleeding, therefore represents a considerable challenge. Recently developed techniques, such as differential display and DNA microarrays permit the abundance of thousands of mRNA transcripts within cells or tissues to be measured simultaneously. This provides a new approach to understanding the complex interactions that underlie both healthy and disease states. Responses of the endometrium to hormones or drugs can be studied and the response of the system as an integrated whole can be assessed. Comparisons of endometrium from healthy women and those with endometrial dysfunction have advanced our understanding of key areas of endometrial physiology, including infertility, receptivity, endometriosis and cancer. Using this approach, novel genes controlling specific endometrial functions like receptivity have been identified for functional testing. This paper will review the impact of these techniques for transcript profiling on our understanding of selected areas of endometrial biology and discuss the potential applications in future.

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