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Int J Clin Exp Pathol. 2013 Sep 15;6(10):2129-36. eCollection 2013.

MAPK/ERK signal pathway involved expression of COX-2 and VEGF by IL-1β induced in human endometriosis stromal cells in vitro.

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Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, The Second Xiangya Hospital, Central South University Changsha, Hunan, China, 410011.



Now there are more and more evidences that Cyclooxygenase-2 (COX-2) plays an important role in angiogenesis of endometriosis (EMs). Vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) has a potent angiogenic activity. However, it is worth studying about the regulating mechanism of COX-2/COX-1 and VEGF in the development of human endometriosis in vitro. The current study was designed to investigate the effect of 4 cytokines on COX-2/COX-1 expression and the effect of IL-1β on VEGF release in human endometriosis stromal cells (ESC), and to explore the related signaling pathways involved in vitro.


Isolation, culture and identification of ESC. Cells were treated with 4 cytokines, and the inhibitor mitogen-activated protein-Erk (MEK) and the inhibitor p38 mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) prior to adding cytokine IL-1β. COX-2 protein expression was measured by western blot and VEGF secretion was determined by ELISA.


Among four kinds of cytokines, IL-1β treatment increased COX-2 protein expression and VEGF release in three ESC, and TNF-α had the same effect on COX-2 protein level as IL-1β only in ectopic and eutopic ESC, and MCSF had only slight effect on ectopic ESC. In contrast, cytokines had no effect on COX-1 expression. We also demonstrated that MAPK reduced the synthesis of COX-2 by IL-1β induced. COX-2 inhibitor reduced VEGF release by IL-1β induced.


i) In human ESC in vitro, IL-1β up-regulated the COX-2 expression through the activation of p38 MAPK pathway, and not to COX-1. ii) Up-regulation of VEGF level by IL-1β treatment was found in human endometriosis stromal cell and COX-2 inhibitor was involved in this process.


Endometriosis stromal cells (ESC); cyclooxygenase-2 (COX-2); cytokines; in vitro; signal pathways; vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF)

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