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J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 2002 Aug;87(8):3953-60.

Soluble gp130 is up-regulated in the implantation window and shows altered secretion in patients with primary unexplained infertility.

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The Reproductive Molecular Research Group, Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, University of Cambridge, The Rosie Maternity Hospital, Cambridge, CB2 2SW, United Kingdom.


Members of the IL-6 family of cytokines, which includes leukemia inhibitory factor (LIF) and IL-11, play important roles in implantation. The activity of these cytokines is modified by soluble receptors such as the IL-6 receptor (sIL-6R). gp130 is a signal transduction molecule common to the receptor complexes of this family, and its soluble form (sgp130) antagonizes their actions. The purpose of this study was to determine whether secretion of IL-6, LIF, sIL-6R, and sgp130 was different in the endometrium of women with primary unexplained infertility compared with normal fertile women. Endometrial biopsies were taken between d LH+6 and +13 and cultured in serum-free medium for 4 h. Secretion of IL-6, LIF, sIL-6R, and sgp130 was measured in the supernatant by ELISA. We also measured the secretion of IL-6, sIL-6R, and sgp130 by endometrial biopsies taken throughout the menstrual cycle in normal fertile women. Secretion of sgp130 increased 20-fold between d 20 and 26 of the cycle, coinciding with the implantation window (proliferative phase, median, 27.0 pg/; range, 23-36; d 20-26, median, 501.5 pg/ml x mg; range, 26.1-1344; P = 0.03). RT-PCR showed that none of the known splice variants of gp130 were present in endometrium, indicating that sgp130 is produced by proteolytic cleavage of the membrane-bound form. IL-6 secretion varied considerably between patients and was greatest during the secretory phase and at menstruation. No significant change was seen in sIL-6R during the cycle. Between LH+6 and +13, secretion of sgp130 was significantly reduced in the infertile group (median, 93.1 pg/; range, 28.5-256; compared with the fertile group, median, 223 pg/ml x mg; range, 63-534; U-statistic = 37; P = 0.017). Secretion of IL-6, LIF, and sIL-6R did not differ between the two groups. Immunolocalization of gp130, IL-6R, and the LIF receptor showed that the glandular epithelium and also endothelial cells are targets for IL-6 and LIF. These findings show that during a normal menstrual cycle, sgp130 secretion is greatly increased between d LH+6 and +13, due to proteolytic cleavage of membrane-bound gp130. Infertile patients show reduced secretion of sgp130 compared with fertile controls during this period, which coincides with the implantation window.

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