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Steroids. 2008 Jan;73(1):116-28. Epub 2007 Oct 12.

Gene expression in endometrial cancer cells (Ishikawa) after short time high dose exposure to progesterone.

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Institute of Clinical Medicine, University of Tromsø, N-9037 Tromsø, Norway.


The potent antiproliferative effect of progestins has been utilized in clinical regimens for treatment of endometrial proliferative disorders. The progestin infiltrated intrauterine device used as therapy for endometrial carcinoma as well as endometrial hyperplasia yields a hundred-fold increase of local progestin concentration in the endometrium compared to that of oral treatment. The genetic basis for the complex effects of high dose progestins and the different signalling pathways regulated by these genes have never been accurately surveyed. The aim of the present study was to determine the gene expression pattern in highly differentiated endometrial cancer cells (Ishikawa) after short time exposure to high progesterone doses. In eight independent experiments, cells were treated with progesterone (30microg/ml) for 4h and gene expression was compared to that of untreated cells, which served as controls. Microarray analysis revealed 247 differentially expressed genes of which 126 were up-regulated and 121 were down-regulated. Of these, 135 genes are known to be involved in biological processes like cell cycle, cell proliferation and differentiation, developmental processes, immune responses, intracellular protein traffic and transport. Our study shows that microarray analysis can detect relevant gene expression changes in endometrial cells treated with progestin, including those involved in several alternative transcriptional factors and signalling pathways. Many of the differentially expressed genes were not previously known to be affected by progesterone or have unknown biological functions. Characterization of these genes may give new insights into molecular responses to treatment with high progesterone doses. Alternative signalling pathways for progesterone, rather than the classical steroid receptors pathways are also suggested.

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