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Phenotypic and functional studies of leukocytes in human endometrium and endometriosis



Phenotypic and functional studies of leukocytes in human endometrium and endometriosis



Human Reproduction Update 4(5): 702-709



The aetiology of endometriosis, a common and disabling disorder, is presently unknown, although immune dysfunction could allow ectopic endometrial fragments to survive outside the uterine cavity. These studies investigate the relationship between leukocyte populations, steroid hormone receptor expression, proliferative activity, bcl-2 expression and apoptosis in eutopic and ectopic endometrium from women with endometriosis or adenomyosis at different phases of the menstrual cycle. Significantly increased oestrogen receptor expression, bcl-2 expression and numbers of CD8+ leukocytes were found in ectopic compared with eutopic endometrium in endometriosis, and CD56+ endometrial granulated lymphocytes (eGLs) were significantly reduced in ectopic endometrium. Apoptotic cells were rarely found in control and subject endometria. In contrast with endometriosis, adenomyotic lesions showed identical steroid hormone receptor expression, proliferative activity, bcl-2 expression and leukocyte subpopulations to eutopic endometrium, indicating different aetiologies for these disorders. The unusual CD56+ CD16- eGLs present in large numbers in late secretory phase eutopic endometrium were highly purified (>98%) by immunomagnetic separation. Except for a negligible cytotoxic activity of eGLs from early proliferative samples, cytotoxic activity of eGLs from non-pregnant endometrium during the menstrual cycle was comparable with those in peripheral blood, predominantly CD56+ CD16+ natural killer cells. eGLs from non-pregnant endometrium and early pregnancy showed a variable proliferative response to 5 and 100 U/ml interleukin-2 over 48-h and 120-h time courses. eGLs are evidently functionally important in the eutopic endometrium. Their absence in endometriotic lesions together with increased CD+8 T-cell numbers and increased oestrogen receptor and bcl-2 expression may have significant effects on the development and progression of endometriosis.

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Accession: 046973867

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PMID: 10027623


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