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Hum Reprod. 1999 Jan;14(1):190-7.

The cyclic pattern of the immunocytochemical expression of oestrogen and progesterone receptors in human myometrial and endometrial layers: characterization of the endometrial-subendometrial unit.

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Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, Klinikum Darmstadt Academic Teaching Hospital, University of Frankfurt, Germany.


Immunocytochemistry of oestrogen receptor (ER) and progesterone receptor (PR) expression of the whole uterine muscular wall and the endometrium was performed in order to obtain morphological and functional insights into the regulation of cyclic uterine peristalsis, which is confined to the endometrium and the subendometrial myometrium and serves functions such as rapid and sustained sperm transport. The study revealed that the subendometrial myometrium or stratum subvasculare with a predominantly circular arrangement of muscular fibres exhibits a cyclic pattern of ER and PR expression that parallels that of the endometrium, whereas the outer portion of the uterine wall composed of the stratum vasculare and supravasculare, which represents the bulk of the uterine musculature, does not exhibit a cyclic pattern of ER and PR expression. According to ontogenetic and phylogenetic data from the literature, the outer myometrium is of non-paramesonephric origin with functions confined to parturition, while the inner myometrial layer together with the glandular epithelium and the stroma of the endometrium is of paramesonephric origin with various functions during the cycle in addition to those during pregnancy and parturition. The inner quarter of the stratum vasculare adjacent to the stratum subvasculare constitutes a transitional zone in that the cyclicity of receptor staining becomes, in radial direction, gradually less expressed. Morphologically this zone corresponds to the inner part of the stratum vasculare where its muscular fibres blend with those of the stratum subvasculare.

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