Transcriptomic analysis supports collective endometrial cell migration in the pathogenesis of adenomyosis

Reprod Biomed Online. 2022 May 17;S1472-6483(22)00350-9. doi: 10.1016/j.rbmo.2022.05.007. Online ahead of print.


Research question: Adenomyosis is a common uterine disorder of uncertain causes. Can transcriptomic analyses of the endometrium and myometrium reveal potential mechanisms underlying adenomyosis pathogenesis?

Design: Transcriptomic profiles of eutopic endometrium and myometrium from women with and without diffuse adenomyosis and with symptomatic FIGO type 2-5 fibroids in the proliferative phase of the menstrual cycle were assessed using RNA sequencing and bioinformatic analysis. Differentially expressed genes (DEG) and potential pathways were validated by quantitative reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction, immunoblotting and Masson staining, using additional clinical samples.

Results: Top biological processes in the endometrium of women with versus without adenomyosis, enriched from DEG, comprised inflammation, extracellular matrix (ECM) organization, collagen degradation and hyaluronan synthesis, which are key in cell migration and cell movement. Top biological processes enriched from DEG in the myometrium of women with versus without adenomyosis revealed ECM organization dysfunction, abnormal sensory pain perception and gamma aminobutyric acid (GABA) synaptic transmission. Dysregulation of prolactin signalling was also enriched in eutopic endometrium and in the myometrium of women with adenomyosis.

Conclusions: Overall, our results support the invasive endometrium theory in the pathogenesis of adenomyosis, in which inflammation induces ECM remodelling resulting in a track for subsequent endometrial collective cell migration and onset of adenomyosis. Moreover, abnormal myometrial GABA synaptic transmission may contribute to dysmenorrhoea in women with adenomyosis and is a possible target for novel therapeutic development. Prolactin signalling abnormalities may serve as another opportunity for therapeutic intervention.

Keywords: Adenomyosis; Collective cell migration; ECM remodeling; GABA; Prolactin; RNA-seq.