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Fertility traits in humans are heritable, however, little is known about the genes that influence reproductive outcomes or the genetic variants that contribute to differences in these traits between individuals, particularly women. To address this gap in knowledge, we performed an unbiased genome-wide expression quantitative trait locus (eQTL) mapping study to identify common regulatory (expression) single nucleotide polymorphisms (eSNPs) in mid-secretory endometrium. We identified 423 cis-eQTLs for 132 genes that were significant at a false discovery rate (FDR) of 1%. After pruning for strong LD (r2 >0.95), we tested for associations between eSNPs and fecundability (the ability to get pregnant), measured as the length of the interval to pregnancy, in 117 women. Two eSNPs were associated with fecundability at a FDR of 5%; both were in the HLA region and were eQTLs for the TAP2 gene (P = 1.3x10-4) and the HLA-F gene (P = 4.0x10-4), respectively. The effects of these SNPs on fecundability were replicated in an independent sample. The two eSNPs reside within or near regulatory elements in decidualized human endometrial stromal cells. Our study integrating eQTL mapping in a primary tissue with association studies of a related phenotype revealed novel genes and associated alleles with independent effects on fecundability, and identified a central role for two HLA region genes in human implantation success.
STUDY QUESTION - Does a differential abundance of high mobility group box 1 (HMGB1) protein in uterine fluid (UF) have a functional significance?
SUMMARY ANSWER - In rats, an excess of HMGB1 in UF during the receptive phase is detrimental to pregnancy.
WHAT IS KNOWN ALREADY - The identification of constituents of the human uterine secretome has been a subject of renewed interest, due to the advent of high throughput proteomic technologies. Proteomic-based investigations of human UF have revealed the presence of several proteins such as mucins, host defense proteins S100, heat shock protein 27 and haptoglobin, etc. The present study reports on the presence of HMGB1, a nuclear protein, in human UF. Activated macrophages/monocytes, natural killer cells, mature dendritic cells, pituicytes and erythroleukemic cells are also known to secrete HMGB1. Existing data suggest that extracellular HMGB1 plays a role in inflammation.
STUDY DESIGN, SIZE, DURATION - The human part of this study was cross-sectional in design. UF and endometrial tissues were collected from regularly cycling women in the early secretory (i.e. pre-receptive phase, Day 2 post-ovulation, n = 7) or secretory phase (i.e. receptive phase, Day 6 post-ovulation, n = 7) of their menstrual cycles. Samples were also collected from cycling rats in the proestrous (n = 8) or metestrous (n = 8) phase of their estrous cycles. Uteri were also collected from HMGB1-treated pregnant (n = 7) and untreated pseudo-pregnant (n = 7) rats and from pregnant rats at Day 3-5 post-coitum (p.c.) (n = 18, 3 each for six-time points).
PARTICIPANTS/MATERIALS, SETTING, METHODS - In each group of human samples, four samples were used for isobaric tag for relative and absolute quantification (iTRAQ) analysis and three samples were used for immunoblotting experiments to determine the abundance of HMGB1 in pre-receptive and receptive phase UF samples. HMGB1 levels in rat UF and endometrial tissue samples were estimated by ELISA and immunohistochemical studies, respectively. The expression of inflammation-associated molecules, such as nuclear factor kappa B (NFκB), receptor for advanced glycation end products (RAGEs), tumor necrosis factor alpha (TNF-α) and interleukin-6 (IL-6), was analyzed by immunohistochemistry in HMGB1-treated and pseudo-pregnant rats.
MAIN RESULTS AND THE ROLE OF CHANCE - HMGB1 was identified as one of the differentially abundant proteins in the list generated by 8-plex iTRAQ analysis of receptive and pre-receptive phase UF samples. In both humans and rats, secreted and cellular levels of HMGB1 showed a similar pattern, i.e. significantly (P < 0.05) lower abundance in the receptive phase compared with that in the pre-receptive phase. A significant (P < 0.05) decline was also observed in the endometrial expression of HMGB1 on the day of implantation in pregnant rats. Exogenous administration of recombinant HMGB1, on Day 3 p.c., led to pregnancy failure, whereas administration of recombinant leukemia inhibitory factor or saline had no effect on pregnant rats. Further investigations revealed morphological changes in the endometrium, an increase in the expression of luminal epithelial NFκB and significantly (P < 0.05) higher expression levels of endometrial RAGE, TNF-α and IL-6 in HMGB1-treated rats, compared with untreated pseudo-pregnant rats.
LIMITATIONS, REASONS FOR CAUTION - The mechanisms, contributing to a decline in the cellular and extracellular levels of HMGB1 during the receptive phase, remain to be ascertained.
WIDER IMPLICATIONS OF THE FINDINGS - An excess of HMGB1 in the UF may be associated with infertility in women.
Alkaline phosphatase (AP) activity has been demonstrated in the uterus of several species, but its importance in the uterus, in general and during pregnancy, is yet to be revealed. In this study, we focused on identifying AP isozyme types and their hormonal regulation, cell type, and event-specific expression and possible functions in the hamster uterus during the cycle and early pregnancy. Our RT-PCR and in situ hybridization studies demonstrated that among the known Akp2, Akp3, Akp5, and Akp6 murine AP isozyme genes, hamster uteri express only Akp2 and Akp6; both genes are co-expressed in luminal epithelial cells. Studies in cyclic and ovariectomized hamsters established that while progesterone (P₄) is the major uterine Akp2 inducer, both P₄ and estrogen are strong Akp6 regulators. Studies in preimplantation uteri showed induction of both genes and the activity of their encoded isozymes in luminal epithelial cells during uterine receptivity. However, at the beginning of implantation, Akp2 showed reduced expression in luminal epithelial cells surrounding the implanted embryo. By contrast, expression of Akp6 and its isozyme was maintained in luminal epithelial cells adjacent to, but not away from, the implanted embryo. Following implantation, stromal transformation to decidua was associated with induced expressions of only Akp2 and its isozyme. We next demonstrated that uterine APs dephosphorylate and detoxify endotoxin lipopolysaccharide at their sites of production and activity. Taken together, our findings suggest that uterine APs contribute to uterine receptivity, implantation, and decidualization in addition to their role in protection of the uterus and pregnancy against bacterial infection.
Progesterone action normally mediates the balance between anti-inflammatory and proinflammatory processes throughout the female reproductive tract. However, in women with endometriosis, endometrial progesterone resistance, characterized by alterations in progesterone responsive gene and protein expression, is now considered a central element in disease pathophysiology. Recent studies additionally suggest that the peritoneal microenvironment of endometriosis patients exhibits altered physiological characteristics that may further promote inflammation-driven disease development and progression. Within this review, we summarize our current understanding of the pathogenesis of endometriosis with an emphasis on the role that inflammation plays in generating not only the progesterone-resistant eutopic endometrium but also a peritoneal microenvironment that may contribute significantly to disease establishment. Viewing endometriosis from the emerging perspective that a progesterone resistant endometrium and an immunologically compromised peritoneal microenvironment are biologically linked risk factors for disease development provides a novel mechanistic framework to identify new therapeutic targets for appropriate medical management.
CONTEXT - Growth of endometriotic lesions in rodent model of endometriosis is inhibited by resveratrol, a natural polyphenol with antiproliferative and antiinflammatory properties, and simvastatin, an inhibitor of 3-hydroxy-3-methylglutaryl-coenzyme A reductase (HMGCR) activity.
OBJECTIVE - The objective of the investigation was to study the mechanism of action of resveratrol and its interactions with simvastatin, focusing on cholesterol biosynthesis and HMGCR gene expression and protein activity in primary cultures of human endometrial stromal (HES) cells.
METHODS - HES cells were obtained from healthy volunteers. Biosynthesis of cholesterol was assessed by measuring the conversion of [(14)C]acetate to [(14)C]cholesterol. HMGCR mRNA transcripts were quantified by real-time PCR, protein expression by Western blot analysis, and enzyme activity by measuring the conversion of [3-(14)C]3-hydroxy-3-methyl-glutaryl-coenzyme A to [(14)C]mevalonic acid lactone in HES cell microsomes.
RESULTS - Resveratrol inhibited cholesterol biosynthesis, HMGCR mRNA, and enzyme activity. Simvastatin inhibited cholesterol biosynthesis and enzyme activity but increased HMGCR mRNA and protein expression. Resveratrol potentiated the inhibitory effects of simvastatin on cholesterol biosynthesis and HMGCR enzyme activity and abrogated the stimulatory effects of simvastatin on HMGCR mRNA transcripts and protein expression.
CONCLUSIONS - Resveratrol inhibits key steps of the mevalonate pathway by mechanisms that are partly complementary to and partly comparable with simvastatin via reducing both expression and activity of HMGCR. A combination of resveratrol and simvastatin may be of potential clinical relevance to development new treatments of human endometriosis.
CONTEXT - Retinoic acid (RA) may promote survival or apoptosis of cells, depending on the levels of binding proteins: apoptosis-inducing cellular RA binding protein 2 (CRABP2), and cell survival-promoting fatty acid binding protein 5 (FABP5). Increased cellular uptake of retinol and altered actions of RA related to reduced expression of CRABP2 may contribute to the development of endometriosis. Recently statins have been shown to inhibit growth of human endometrial stromal (HES) cells and to reduce the number and size of endometriotic implants in experimental models of this disorder.
OBJECTIVE - The objective of the study was to determine whether effects of simvastatin on HES cells and experimental endometriotic implants are related to the modulation of the RA system.
METHODS - Effects of simvastatin and RA on proliferation and apoptosis of HES cells were evaluated. Expression of stimulated by RA 6 (STRA6), CRABP2, and FABP5 was determined by real-time PCR and Western blotting. Effects of simvastatin were also evaluated in a nude mouse model of human endometriosis.
RESULTS - Simvastatin potentiated an inhibitory effect of RA on growth of HES cells. In HES cells, simvastatin induced expression of STRA6 and CRABP2 but not FABP5. Similarly, simvastatin treatment of nude mice bearing human endometrial xenografts led to an increased expression of CRABP2 and STRA6 proteins in ectopic lesions.
CONCLUSIONS - Simvastatin interacts with the RA system, inducing the expression of the key protein regulating the uptake of retinol (STRA6) and the expression of apoptosis-promoting CRABP2. These effects may contribute to cooperative apoptosis-inducing effects of simvastatin and RA and support the examination of these compounds in the treatment of endometriosis.
OBJECTIVE - To examine the differentiation-related expression of cannabinoid receptor type 1 (CB1-R) messenger RNA (mRNA) and protein in endometrial tissue obtained from women with and without endometriosis and to determine the impact of acute 2,3,7,8-tetrachlorodibenzo-p-dioxin (TCDD) exposure on CB1-R gene expression in isolated endometrial stromal cells.
DESIGN - Laboratory-based study.
SETTING - University-affiliated medical center.
PATIENT(S) - Women with and without endometriosis undergoing volunteer endometrial biopsies after informed consent.
INTERVENTION(S) - None.
MAIN OUTCOME MEASURE(S) - Analysis of in vivo CB1-R mRNA and protein expression in human endometrial tissues and mRNA expression in isolated stromal cells after exposure to TCDD or a progesterone receptor antagonist (onapristone).
RESULT(S) - Expression of CB1-R mRNA and protein was highest during the progesterone-dominated secretory phase in control samples, but expression was minimal in the endometrial tissues acquired from women with endometriosis, regardless of the cycle phase. Although progesterone was found to induce CB1-R mRNA expression in endometrial stromal cells from control donors, steroid-induced expression of this gene was inhibited by cotreatment with either TCDD or onapristone.
CONCLUSION(S) - Our studies reveal a role for the anti-inflammatory actions of progesterone in regulating endometrial cannabinoid signaling, which is disrupted in women with endometriosis. We demonstrate for the first time that acute TCDD exposure disrupts cannabinoid signaling in the human endometrium.
Copyright © 2012 American Society for Reproductive Medicine. Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Recently we reported that statins, the competitive inhibitors of the key enzyme regulating the mevalonate pathway, 3-hydroxy-3-methylglutaryl-coenzyme A reductase (HMGCR), decrease proliferation of human endometrial stromal (HES) cells. Furthermore, we found that simvastatin treatment reduces the number and the size of endometrial implants in a nude mouse model of endometriosis. The present study was undertaken to investigate the effect of simvastatin on HES cell invasiveness and on expression of selected genes relevant to invasiveness: matrix metalloproteinase 2 (MMP2), MMP3, tissue inhibitor of matrix metalloproteinase 2 (TIMP2), and CD44. Because statin-induced inhibition of HMGCR reduces the production of substrates for isoprenylation-geranylgeranyl pyrophosphate (GGPP) and farnesyl pyrophosphate (FPP)-the effects of GGPP and FPP were also evaluated. Simvastatin induced a concentration-dependent reduction of invasiveness of HES cells. This effect of simvastatin was abrogated by GGPP but not by FPP. Simvastatin also reduced the mRNA levels of MMP2, MMP3, and CD44, but increased TIMP2 mRNA; all these effects of simvastatin were partly or entirely reversed in the presence of GGPP. The present findings provide a novel mechanism of action of simvastatin on endometrial stroma that may explain reduction of endometriosis in animal models of this disease. Furthermore, the presently described effects of simvastatin are likely mediated, at least in part, by inhibition of geranylgeranylation.
Statins are potent inhibitors of the endogenous mevalonate pathway. Besides inhibiting cholesterol biosynthesis, statins may also demonstrate anti-inflammatory properties. Inflammation is implicated in the attachment and invasion of endometrial cells to the peritoneal surface and growth of ectopic endometrium by inducing proliferation and angiogenesis. In this study, the effect of statins on monocyte chemotactic protein 1 (MCP-1) expression in endometriotic implants in nude mouse model and in cultured endometriotic cells was evaluated. In mouse model, simvastatin decreased MCP-1 expression in a dose-dependent manner in endometriotic implants (P < .05). Similarly, both simvastatin and mevastatin revealed a dose-dependent inhibition of MCP-1 production in cultured endometriotic cells (P < .01). This inhibitory effect of the statins on MCP-1 production was reversed by the downstream substrates of the mevalonate pathway. Moreover, statins decreased MCP-1 messenger RNA expression in cultured endometriotic cells (P < .05). In conclusion, statins exert anti-inflammatory effect in endometriotic cells and could provide a potential treatment of endometriosis in the future.
OBJECTIVE - To examine the impact of a recent surgery on development of endometriosis-related adhesions in a chimeric model and to determine the therapeutic efficacy of pioglitazone (PIO).
DESIGN - Human endometrial biopsies were maintained in E(2) with or without PIO for 24 h before intraperitoneal injection into immunocompromised mice also treated with or without PIO at multiple time points after peritoneal surgery. The presence and extent of adhesions were examined in animals relative to the initial establishment of experimental endometriosis.
SETTING - Medical school research center.
PATIENT(S) - Endometrial biopsies for experimental studies were provided by normally cycling women without a medical history indicative of endometriosis or adhesions.
INTERVENTION(S) - None.
MAIN OUTCOME MEASURE(S) - Examination of the development of endometriosis-related adhesions in an experimental model.
RESULT(S) - Without therapeutic intervention, injection of E(2)-treated human endometrial tissue into mice near the time of peritoneal surgery resulted in multiple adhesions and extensive endometriotic-like disease. In contrast, PIO treatment reduced adhesive disease and experimental endometriosis related to surgical injury.
CONCLUSION(S) - The presence of human endometrial tissue fragments in the peritoneal cavity of mice with a recent surgical injury promoted development of both adhesive disease and experimental endometriosis. Targeting inflammation and angiogenesis with PIO therapy limited the development of postsurgical adhesions associated with ectopic endometrial growth.
Copyright © 2011 American Society for Reproductive Medicine. Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.