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Reproduction. 2005 Jun;129(6):765-77.

The role of progesterone in endometrial angiogenesis in pregnant and ovariectomised mice.

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Centre for Women's Health Research, Monash University Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, Monash Medical Centre, 246 Clayton Rd, Clayton, Victoria, Australia 3168.


The role of progesterone (and oestrogen) in endometrial angiogenesis remains controversial. The aims of this study were to quantify endometrial angiogenesis in pregnant mice and to investigate the role of progesterone in promoting endothelial cell proliferation in ovariectomized mice. Uteri were collected on days 1 to 4 of pregnancy when circulating progesterone concentrations were increasing, prior to implantation. Before dissection, mice were injected with bromodeoxyuridine (BrdU) enabling proliferating endothelial cells to be quantified with CD31/BrdU double-immunohistochemistry. There was a significant increase in proliferating endothelial cells on day 3 of pregnancy when plasma progesterone also increased. To determine if this endothelial cell proliferation was due to progesterone, an experiment was performed on ovariectomised mice. One group was treated with a single oestradiol injection on day 8 after ovariectomy, followed by a no-treatment day and three consecutive daily injections of progesterone. Other groups were treated with either the vehicle, oestradiol or progesterone injections only; all were dissected on day 13 following ovariectomy. Unexpectedly, mice treated with progesterone-only had the highest amount of endothelial cell proliferation and oestrogen priming was found to significantly reduce this progesterone-induced endothelial cell proliferation. To determine if this proliferation is mediated by vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF), a further experiment in which VEGF anti-serum was administered concurrently with the progesterone injections was performed. Endothelial cell proliferation was reduced but not abolished suggesting progesterone-induced endometrial angiogenesis is only partly mediated by VEGF. Results indicate that oestrogen priming is not required for progesterone to stimulate endometrial endothelial cell proliferation and that oestrogen inhibits progesterone-induced angiogenesis in ovariectomised mice.

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