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Differentiation. 2011 Oct;82(3):117-26. doi: 10.1016/j.diff.2011.04.008. Epub 2011 May 25.

Normal and abnormal epithelial differentiation in the female reproductive tract.

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  • 1Division of Reproductive Biology Research, Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, Chicago, IL 60611, USA. t-kurita@northwestern.edu

Abstract

In mammals, the female reproductive tract (FRT) develops from a pair of paramesonephric or Müllerian ducts (MDs), which arise from coelomic epithelial cells of mesodermal origin. During development, the MDs undergo a dynamic morphogenetic transformation from simple tubes consisting of homogeneous epithelium and surrounding mesenchyme into several distinct organs namely the oviduct, uterus, cervix and vagina. Following the formation of anatomically distinctive organs, the uniform MD epithelium (MDE) differentiates into diverse epithelial cell types with unique morphology and functions in each organ. Classic tissue recombination studies, in which the epithelium and mesenchyme isolated from the newborn mouse FRT were recombined, have established that the organ specific epithelial cell fate of MDE is dictated by the underlying mesenchyme. The tissue recombination studies have also demonstrated that there is a narrow developmental window for the epithelial cell fate determination in MD-derived organs. Accordingly, the developmental plasticity of epithelial cells is mostly lost in mature FRT. If the signaling that controls epithelial differentiation is disrupted at the critical developmental stage, the cell fate of MD-derived epithelial tissues will be permanently altered and can result in epithelial lesions in adult life. A disruption of signaling that maintains epithelial cell fate can also cause epithelial lesions in the FRT. In this review, the pathogenesis of cervical/vaginal adenoses and uterine squamous metaplasia is discussed as examples of such incidences.

Copyright © 2011. Published by Elsevier B.V.

PMID:
21612855
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
PMCID:
PMC3178098
Free PMC Article
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