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Pathol Res Pract. 2007;203(2):79-83. Epub 2006 Dec 22.

Calretinin: an immunohistochemical marker for the normal functional endometrial stroma and alterations of the immunoreactivity in dysfunctional uterine bleeding.

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  • 1Division of Anatomical Pathology, Department of Laboratory Medicine, Ottawa Civic Hospital, Ottawa, Ont., Canada.


Calretinin has been identified in the central nervous system, in various endocrine and mesothelial cells, and is often used as an immunohistochemical tool in the pathologic diagnosis. We have recently observed its presence in the endometrial stromal cells (ESC) of the normal functionalis (FL). Endometrial tissue from various physiologic and pathologic conditions was submitted for immunostaining for calretinin. For each condition, two to ten samples were tested. Calretinin displayed a strong cytoplasmic and occasionally nuclear reactivity for ESC of the normal FL in all physiologic phases of the normal menstrual cycle except for the breakdown period. Reactivity was limited in the superficial zone of the FL in proliferative phase, and was extensive in all stages of secretory phase. The ESC of the basilis layer, postmenopausal women, endometriotic and adenomyotic tissue, endometrial polyps, hyperplasia, carcinoma, and ESC neoplasms were not reactive for the marker. In endometrial specimens from patients with dysfunctional bleeding, there were varying degrees of decrease in reactivity in a patchy pattern. We demonstrated for the first time that calretinin reactivity of the ESC is strong and diffuse in a zonal pattern in the normal FL of the normal cycling endometrium. In endometrium with dysfunctional bleeding, postmenopausal, ectopic, hyperplastic, and neoplastic endometria, the ESC displayed focally decreased to negative reactivity. Calretinin can be used as a marker for normally functional ESC. Further study is necessary to investigate the mechanism and the role that calretinin plays in the physiologic cyclic changes of the endometrium.

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