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Hum Reprod. 1998 Dec;13(12):3496-502.

Apoptosis and bcl-2 expression in normal human endometrium, endometriosis and adenomyosis.

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Department of Immunology, University of Newcastle, The Medical School, Newcastle upon Tyne, UK.


Apoptosis has been implicated in the pathogenesis of several diseases and is partly regulated by bcl-2, which blocks the apoptotic pathway and promotes cell survival. Apoptosis and bcl-2 expression were examined in paired eutopic and ectopic endometrium from women with endometriosis (n = 30 samples) or adenomyosis (n = 15 samples) and compared with control endometrium (n = 30 samples). Apoptotic cells were detected using the dUTP nick-end labelling (TUNEL) assay for DNA fragmentation; bcl-2 expression was demonstrated with a streptavidin-biotin peroxidase immunohistochemical technique. Apoptotic cells were rare in eutopic, ectopic and control endometrium; there were no significant differences between subject groups nor between eutopic and ectopic endometrium. Stromal bcl-2 expression increased in the late secretory phase in control and eutopic endometrium in endometriosis; double labelling studies revealed that most stromal bcl-2+ cells were leukocytes. Stromal bcl-2 expression in endometriotic foci was significantly increased compared with the paired eutopic endometrium, did not vary with menstrual cycle and included a significant population of non-leukocytic bcl-2+ stromal cells. In contrast, stromal bcl-2 expression in adenomyosis remained at low levels and did not show significant cyclical variation. Glandular epithelial bcl-2 expression also varied with menstrual cycle phase and peaked in the proliferative phase; in contrast, surface epithelial bcl-2 expression increased in the late secretory phase. Elevated stromal bcl-2 expression in ovarian endometriotic lesions could have implications for the growth and survival of ectopic endometrial tissue at these sites.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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