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Exp Mol Pathol. 2012 Dec;93(3):441-8. doi: 10.1016/j.yexmp.2012.10.009. Epub 2012 Oct 12.

Re-establishment of gap junctional intercellular communication (GJIC) between human endometrial carcinomas by prostaglandin E(2).

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Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine, University of North Carolina School of Medicine, Chapel Hill, NC 27599-7295, USA.


Reduced intercellular communication via gap junctions is correlated with carcinogenesis. Gap junctional intercellular communication (GJIC), between normal human endometrial epithelial cells is enhanced when endometrial stromal cells were present in culture. This enhancement of GJIC between normal epithelial cells also occurs when they are cultured in medium conditioned by stromal cells. This observation indicated that a soluble compound (or compounds) produced and secreted by stromal cells mediates GJIC in epithelial cells. Previous studies have shown that endometrial stromal cells release prostaglandin E(2) (PGE(2)) and prostaglandin F(2α) (PGF(2α)) under physiological conditions. When we evaluated the response of normal endometrial epithelial cells to various concentrations of PGE(2,) we found enhanced GJIC with 1nM PGE(2). This is a smaller increase in GJIC than that induced by medium conditioned by stromal cells. When the extracellular concentration of PGE(2) was measured after incubation with stromal cells, it was found to be similar to the concentrations showing maximal GJIC between the normal epithelial cells. When indomethacin was used to inhibit prostaglandin synthesis by stromal cells, GJIC was reduced but not eliminated between normal endometrial epithelial cells. These observations suggest that although PGE(2) secreted by stromal cells is an important mediator of GJIC between the epithelial cells, it is not the sole mediator. Transformed endometrial epithelial cells did not demonstrate GJIC even in the presence of stromal cells. However, we were able to re-establish GJIC in transformed epithelial cells when we added PGE(2) to the cells. Our findings show that PGE(2) may serve as an intercellular mediator between stromal and epithelial cells that regulates GJIC in normal and malignant epithelial cells. This suggests that maintenance of GJIC by preserving or replacing PGE(2) secretion by endometrial stromal cells may have the potential to suppress carcinogenesis in endometrial epithelial cells.

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