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Mol Cell Endocrinol. 2008 Jun 25;288(1-2):22-9. doi: 10.1016/j.mce.2008.02.026. Epub 2008 Mar 4.

Hormone and growth factor signaling in endometrial renewal: role of stem/progenitor cells.

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  • 1Centre for Women's Health Research, Monash Institute of Medical Research, Monash University, Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, Monash Medical Centre, Clayton, Victoria Australia.


The human endometrium is a dynamic remodeling tissue undergoing more than 400 cycles of regeneration, differentiation and shedding during a woman's reproductive years. The co-ordinated and sequential actions of estrogen and progesterone direct these major remodeling events preparing a receptive endometrium for blastocyst implantation on a monthly basis. Adult stem/progenitor cells are likely responsible for endometrial regeneration. Functional approaches have been used to identify candidate endometrial stem/progenitor cells, as there are no specific stem cell markers. Rare populations of human endometrial epithelial and stromal colony-forming cells/units (CFU) and side population (SP) cells have been identified. Several growth factors are required for CFU activity: epidermal growth factor (EGF), transforming growth factor alpha (TGFalpha) and platelet-derived growth factor BB (PDGF-BB) for both epithelial and stromal CFU, and basic fibroblast growth factor (bFGF) for stromal, but not epithelial CFU. A sub-population of human endometrial stromal cells with mesenchymal stem cell properties of CFU activity and multilineage (fat, muscle, cartilage and bone) differentiation have been isolated by their co-expression of CD146 and PDGF-receptor beta. Candidate epithelial and stromal stem/progenitor cells have been identified in mouse endometrium as rare label retaining cells (LRCs) in the luminal epithelium and as perivascular cells at the endometrial-myometrial junction, respectively. While epithelial and most stromal LRC do not express estrogen receptor alpha (Esr1), they rapidly proliferate on estrogen stimulation, most likely mediated by neighbouring Esr1-expressing niche cells. It is likely that these newly identified endometrial stem/progenitor cells may play key roles in the development of gynecological diseases associated with abnormal endometrial proliferation such as endometriosis and endometrial cancer.

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