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Dev Biol. 1992 May;151(1):297-305.

Interleukin-1, interleukin-6, and tumor necrosis factor alpha are produced in the mouse uterus during the estrous cycle and are induced by estrogen and progesterone.

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  • 1Department of Pathology and Oncology, University of Kansas Medical Center, Kansas City 66103.


The ovarian steroids, estrogen and progesterone, regulate cellular and molecular changes which occur in the uterus during the estrous cycle. Cycles of protein synthesis, cell proliferation and differentiation, and cell death are the direct results of changes in hormone concentration. To explore the possibility that cytokines, which stimulate proliferation and differentiation of numerous types of cells, might be associated with those cyclic changes, the production of IL-1, IL-6, and TNF alpha was examined in the mouse uterus. Cytokine mRNA expression, bioactivity, and immunoreactivity were quantitated during the estrous cycle, following ovariectomy and exposure of ovariectomized mice to estrogen and progesterone. IL-1, IL-6, and TNF alpha mRNA was detected, and mRNA levels for each of the cytokines varied with the stage of the cycle. Cytokine bioactivity was expressed throughout the cycle, but levels of each cytokine were highest during proestrus and/or estrus. Immunoreactivity paralleled bioactivity. Uterus from ovariectomized mice contained little or no cytokine activity, and systemic administration of estrogen or progesterone resulted in the induction of IL-1 alpha and IL-1 beta mRNA expression. Significant amounts of IL-6 and TNF alpha mRNA appeared only following the exposure of ovariectomized mice to estrogen plus progesterone. Cytokine bioactivity and immunoreactivity also appeared following the administration of estrogen and/or progesterone. The highest activity levels for each cytokine were observed following the injection of estrogen plus progesterone. Cyclic expression of IL-1, IL-6, and TNF alpha in the uterus and their apparent regulation by estrogen and progesterone raise the possibility that cytokines and factors which are induced by cytokines are part of the regulatory process which is induced by ovarian hormones in the uterus of reproductive age females.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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