Effects of progesterone, levonorgestrel and medroxyprogesterone acetate on apoptosis in human endometrial endothelial cells

Contraception. 2009 Feb;79(2):139-45. doi: 10.1016/j.contraception.2008.08.008. Epub 2008 Oct 9.


Background: We evaluated apoptosis in human endometrial endothelial cells (HEECs) incubated with progesterone, levonorgestrel (LNG) and medroxyprogesterone acetate (MPA).

Study design: HEECs were cultured to near confluence, and the progestogens were added.

Setting: Academic Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology.

Patients: No patients were involved.

Interventions: Progestogens at 5-, 250- and 500-ng/mL concentrations were added to incubations of HEECs for 12, 24 and 48 h.

Main outcome measure: Apoptosis based on terminal deoxynucleotidyl transferase-mediated deoxy-UTP nick-end labeling (TUNEL), and semiquantification of Bax and Bcl-2.

Results: No apoptosis was found by TUNEL, Bax and Bcl-2 after 12 h incubation with any progestogen. TUNEL increased after incubation for 24 and 48 h with progesterone 500 ng/mL; LNG 250, 500 ng/mL and all concentrations of MPA (p<.001), Bax increased and Bcl-2 decreased at all concentrations of MPA and the two highest concentrations of LNG at 48 h (p<.05).

Conclusion: MPA results in apoptosis of HEECs.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Apoptosis / drug effects*
  • Blotting, Western
  • Cell Line
  • DNA Breaks
  • Endometrium / cytology
  • Endometrium / drug effects*
  • Endometrium / metabolism
  • Endothelial Cells / cytology
  • Endothelial Cells / drug effects
  • Endothelial Cells / metabolism
  • Female
  • Humans
  • In Situ Nick-End Labeling
  • Levonorgestrel / pharmacology*
  • Medroxyprogesterone Acetate / pharmacology*
  • Progesterone / pharmacology*
  • Progestins / pharmacology*
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-bcl-2 / biosynthesis
  • bcl-2-Associated X Protein / biosynthesis


  • BAX protein, human
  • Progestins
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-bcl-2
  • bcl-2-Associated X Protein
  • Progesterone
  • Levonorgestrel
  • Medroxyprogesterone Acetate