Objective: To study the regulation of apoptosis in human endometrial cells. The specific aims were to determine whether milk fat globule-epidermal growth factor 8 (MFG-E8), a novel endometrial epithelial protein, modulates caspase activation and DNA fragmentation; and to examine whether hCG, an early embryonic product, regulates Bax and Bcl-2 equilibrium, as well as MFG-E8 expression.
Design: Primary cultures of human endometrial epithelial cells (EECs) and endometrial stromal cells (ESCs).
Setting: Academic center.
Patient(s): Ovulatory women aged 21-30 years.
Intervention(s): Treatment with MFG-E8 and hCG.
Main outcome measure(s): Apoptotic activity was quantified using a luciferase assay. Deoxyribonucleic acid fragmentation was detected by TUNEL assay. Bax, Bcl-2, and MFG-E8 messenger RNA expression levels were determined by quantitative reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction. Immunocytochemistry was used to establish cell purity and presence of MFG-E8 and hCG-R (receptor) proteins.
Result(s): Endometrial epithelial cells were cytokeratin(+), vimentin(-), MFG-E8(+), and hCG-R(+), whereas ESC were vimentin(+), cytokeratin(-), MFG-E8(-), and hCG-R(+). Treatment of ESC with MFG-E8 resulted in a 13-fold increase in caspase activity and a 30-fold increase in TUNEL. On the other hand, hCG decreased messenger RNA expression of Bax in ESC.
Conclusion(s): Milk fat globule-epidermal growth factor 8 has proapoptotic activity, suggesting participation in endometrial remodeling via an epithelial-stromal cell paracrine effect. Conversely, pregnancy levels of hCG has opposite effects on stromal cells.
Copyright © 2012 American Society for Reproductive Medicine. Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.