Estrogen and progesterone metabolism in the cervix during pregnancy and parturition.
ABSTRACT: Experimental and clinical studies in a variety of nonprimate species demonstrate that progesterone withdrawal leads to changes in gene expression that initiate parturition at term. Mice deficient in 5alpha-reductase type I fail to undergo cervical ripening at term despite the timely onset of luteolysis and progesterone withdrawal in blood.Our objective was to test the hypothesis that estrogen and progesterone metabolism is regulated in cervical tissues during pregnancy, even in species in which parturition is not characterized by progesterone withdrawal in blood.Estradiol and progesterone metabolism was quantified in intact cervical tissues from nonpregnant and pregnant women at term before or after labor.The study was conducted at a university hospital.Tissues were obtained from five nonpregnant and 21 pregnant women (nine before labor and 12 in labor).Enzyme activity measurements, Northern blot analysis, quantitative real-time RT-PCR, and immunohistochemistry were used to quantify steroid hormone metabolizing enzymes in cervical and myometrial tissues.During pregnancy, 17beta-hydroxysteroid dehydrogenase type 2 was induced in glandular epithelial cells to catalyze the conversion of estradiol to estrone and stroma-derived 20alpha-hydroxyprogesterone to progesterone. During parturition, 17beta-hydroxysteroid dehydrogenase type 2 was down-regulated in endocervical cells, thereby creating a microenvironment favorable for cervical ripening.Together, the data indicate that cervical ripening during parturition involves localized regulation of estrogen and progesterone metabolism through a complex relationship between cervical epithelium and stroma, and that steroid hormone metabolism in cervical tissues from pregnant women is unique from that in mice.
Project description:The uterine cervix is the boundary structure between the uterus and the vagina and is key for the maintenance of pregnancy and timing of parturition. Here we report on a comparative transcriptomic study of the cervix of four placental mammals, mouse, guinea pig, rabbit and armadillo, and one marsupial, opossum. Our aim is to investigate the evolution of cervical gene expression as related to putative mechanisms for functional progesterone withdrawal. Our findings are: 1) The patterns of gene expression in eutherian (placental) mammals are consistent with the notion that an increase in the E/P4 signaling ratio is critical for cervical ripening. How the increased E/P4 ratio is achieved, however, is variable between species. 2) None of the genes related to steroid signaling, that are modulated in eutherian species, change expression during opossum gestation. 3) A tendency for decreased expression of progesterone receptor co-activators (NCOA1, -2 and -3, and CREBBP) towards term is a shared derived feature of eutherians. This suggests that parturition is associated with broad scale histone de-acetylation. Western-blotting on mouse cervix confirmed large scale histone de-acetylation in labor. This finding may have important implications for the control of premature cervical ripening and prevention of preterm birth in humans.
Project description:In mice, the onset of parturition is triggered by a rapid decline in circulating progesterone. Progesterone withdrawal occurs as a result of functional luteolysis, which is characterized by an increase in the enzymatic activity of 20α-hydroxysteroid dehydrogenase (20α-HSD) in the corpus luteum and is mediated by the prostaglandin F2α (PGF2α) signaling. Here, we report that the genetic knockout (KO) of Mamld1, which encodes a putative non-DNA-binding regulator of testicular steroidogenesis, caused defective functional luteolysis and subsequent parturition failure and neonatal deaths. Progesterone receptor inhibition induced the onset of parturition in pregnant KO mice, and MAMLD1 regulated the expression of Akr1c18, the gene encoding 20α-HSD, in cultured cells. Ovaries of KO mice at late gestation were morphologically unremarkable; however, Akr1c18 expression was reduced and expression of its suppressor Stat5b was markedly increased. Several other genes including Prlr, Cyp19a1, Oxtr, and Lgals3 were also dysregulated in the KO ovaries, whereas PGF2α signaling genes remained unaffected. These results highlight the role of MAMLD1 in labour initiation. MAMLD1 likely participates in functional luteolysis by regulating Stat5b and other genes, independent of the PGF2α signaling pathway.
Project description:We have previously reported that the contractile response to thrombin and trypsin was enhanced in the pregnant rat myometrium. We herein determined whether or not sex hormones contribute to this enhancement and the expression of protease-activated receptors (PARs). The nonpregnant rats received daily injections of either 17beta-estradiol or progesterone, and then the contractile response of the myometrium was examined ex vivo. Treatment with either 17beta-estradiol or progesterone had almost no significant enhancing effect on the high K(+)- or oxytocin-induced contraction. On the other hand, both 17beta-estradiol and progesterone dose-dependently enhanced the contractile response to trypsin. A maximal enhancement was obtained at 25 and 40 mg kg weight(-1) day(-1) for 17beta-estradiol and progesterone, respectively. The extent of the enhancement of the trypsin-induced contraction seen in the sex hormone-treated rats in the present study was comparable to that reported in the pregnant rats. However, the contractile response to thrombin and PAR1/PAR2-AP, SFLLRNP was not enhanced either by progesterone or 17beta-estradiol. PAR2-AP and PAR4-AP failed to induce contraction under any conditions. PAR1 mRNA was scarcely detected in the control myometrium by an RT-PCR analysis, while it slightly increased only in the progesterone-treated rats. Neither PAR2 nor PAR4 mRNA was detected. We thus conclude that the responsiveness to trypsin, but not thrombin, is controlled by sex hormones. A novel type of receptor, other than PAR1, PAR2 or PAR4, is suggested to mediate the trypsin-induced contraction as in the case of the pregnant rat myometrium.
Project description:Cervix remodeling (CRM) is a critical process in preparation for parturition. Early cervix shortening is a powerful clinical predictor of preterm birth, and thus understanding how CRM is regulated is important for the prevention of prematurity. Humans and other primates differ from most other mammals by the maintenance of high levels of systemic progesterone concentrations and thus differ dramatically from most model species. Humans have been hypothesized to perform functional progesterone withdrawal (FPW), but the mechanisms of FPW are not known. Guinea pigs are similar to humans as they also maintain high progesterone concentrations through parturition. The aim of this study is to document gene expression during pregnancy in the guinea pig uterine cervix in order to assess whether guinea pig can be used as a model for human FPW Total RNA obtained from isolated cervical tissues from non-pregnant and two genstation stages (mid-term, and late-term but not in labor).
Project description:BACKGROUND AND OBJECTIVES:Cervix remodeling (CRM) is a critical process in preparation for parturition. Early cervix shortening is a powerful clinical predictor of preterm birth, and thus understanding how CRM is regulated is important for the prevention of prematurity. Humans and other primates differ from most other mammals by the maintenance of high levels of systemic progesterone concentrations. Humans have been hypothesized to perform functional progesterone withdrawal (FPW). Guinea pigs are similar to humans in maintaining high-progesterone concentrations through parturition, thus making them a prime model for studying CRM. Here, we analyze the phylogenetic history of FPW and document gene expression in the guinea pig uterine cervix. METHODOLOGY:Data on progesterone withdrawal were collected from the literature, and character evolution was analyzed. Uterine cervix samples were collected from non-pregnant, mid-pregnant and late pregnant guinea pigs. RNA was extracted and sequenced. Relative transcript levels were estimated and compared among sample groups. RESULTS:The phylogenetic analysis shows that FPW evolved independently in primates and guinea pigs. The transcriptome data confirms that guinea pigs down-regulate progesterone receptor toward parturition, in contrast to humans. Some of the similarities between human and guinea pig are: down-regulation of estrogen receptor, up-regulation of VCAN and IGFBP4 as well as likely involvement of prostaglandins. CONCLUSIONS AND IMPLICATIONS:(i) FPW in guinea pigs evolved independently from that in primates. (ii) A small set of conserved gene regulatory changes has been detected.
Project description:Progesterone withdrawal is essential for parturition, but the mechanism of this pivotal hormonal change is unclear in women and other mammals that give birth without a pre-labor drop in maternal progesterone levels. One possibility suggested by uterine tissue analyses and cell culture models is that progesterone receptor levels change at term decreasing the progesterone responsiveness of the myometrium, which causes progesterone withdrawal at the functional level and results in estrogen dominance enhancing uterine contractility. In this investigation we have explored whether receptor mediated functional progesterone withdrawal occurs during late pregnancy and labor in vivo. We have also determined whether prostaglandins that induce labor cause functional progesterone withdrawal by altering myometrial progesterone receptor expression. Pregnant guinea pigs were used, since this animal loses progesterone responsiveness at term and gives birth in the presence of high maternal progesterone level similarly to primates. We found that progesterone receptor mRNA and protein A and B expression decreased in the guinea pig uterus during the last third of gestation and in labor. Prostaglandin administration reduced while prostaglandin synthesis inhibitor treatment increased progesterone receptor A protein abundance. Estrogen receptor-1 protein levels remained unchanged during late gestation, in labor and after prostaglandin or prostaglandin synthesis inhibitor administration. Steroid receptor levels were higher in the non-pregnant than in the pregnant uterine horns. We conclude that the decreasing expression of both progesterone receptors A and B is a physiological mechanism of functional progesterone withdrawal in the guinea pig during late pregnancy and in labor. Further, prostaglandins administered exogenously or produced endogenously stimulate labor in part by suppressing uterine progesterone receptor A expression, which may cause functional progesterone withdrawal, promote estrogen dominance and foster myometrial contractions.
Project description:The kinetic parameters, steroid substrate specificity and identities of reaction products were determined for four homogeneous recombinant human 3alpha-hydroxysteroid dehydrogenase (3alpha-HSD) isoforms of the aldo-keto reductase (AKR) superfamily. The enzymes correspond to type 1 3alpha-HSD (AKR1C4), type 2 3alpha(17beta)-HSD (AKR1C3), type 3 3alpha-HSD (AKR1C2) and 20alpha(3alpha)-HSD (AKR1C1), and share at least 84% amino acid sequence identity. All enzymes acted as NAD(P)(H)-dependent 3-, 17- and 20-ketosteroid reductases and as 3alpha-, 17beta- and 20alpha-hydroxysteroid oxidases. The functional plasticity of these isoforms highlights their ability to modulate the levels of active androgens, oestrogens and progestins. Salient features were that AKR1C4 was the most catalytically efficient, with k(cat)/K(m) values for substrates that exceeded those obtained with other isoforms by 10-30-fold. In the reduction direction, all isoforms inactivated 5alpha-dihydrotestosterone (17beta-hydroxy-5alpha-androstan-3-one; 5alpha-DHT) to yield 5alpha-androstane-3alpha,17beta-diol (3alpha-androstanediol). However, only AKR1C3 reduced Delta(4)-androstene-3,17-dione to produce significant amounts of testosterone. All isoforms reduced oestrone to 17beta-oestradiol, and progesterone to 20alpha-hydroxy-pregn-4-ene-3,20-dione (20alpha-hydroxyprogesterone). In the oxidation direction, only AKR1C2 converted 3alpha-androstanediol to the active hormone 5alpha-DHT. AKR1C3 and AKR1C4 oxidized testosterone to Delta(4)-androstene-3,17-dione. All isoforms oxidized 17beta-oestradiol to oestrone, and 20alpha-hydroxyprogesterone to progesterone. Discrete tissue distribution of these AKR1C enzymes was observed using isoform-specific reverse transcriptase-PCR. AKR1C4 was virtually liver-specific and its high k(cat)/K(m) allows this enzyme to form 5alpha/5beta-tetrahydrosteroids robustly. AKR1C3 was most prominent in the prostate and mammary glands. The ability of AKR1C3 to interconvert testosterone with Delta(4)-androstene-3,17-dione, but to inactivate 5alpha-DHT, is consistent with this enzyme eliminating active androgens from the prostate. In the mammary gland, AKR1C3 will convert Delta(4)-androstene-3,17-dione to testosterone (a substrate aromatizable to 17beta-oestradiol), oestrone to 17beta-oestradiol, and progesterone to 20alpha-hydroxyprogesterone, and this concerted reductive activity may yield a pro-oesterogenic state. AKR1C3 is also the dominant form in the uterus and is responsible for the synthesis of 3alpha-androstanediol which has been implicated as a parturition hormone. The major isoforms in the brain, capable of synthesizing anxiolytic steroids, are AKR1C1 and AKR1C2. These studies are in stark contrast with those in rat where only a single AKR with positional- and stereo-specificity for 3alpha-hydroxysteroids exists.
Project description:1. Pregnant rats were fed either low (less than 1 p.p.m.) Zn or control (40 p.p.m. Zn) diets from day 10 of gestation. They were killed at intervals during the last 96 h preceding the normal time for onset of parturition, and differences in plasma progesterone, oestradiol-17 beta and ovarian 20 alpha-hydroxysteroid dehydrogenase were assessed. 2. Gestation was prolonged in Zn-deficient rats. 3. Although the preparturient decline in plasma progesterone began at the same time in all groups, at term, plasma progesterone concentration in Zn-deficient rats remained significantly higher than in normal females. 4. Induction of ovarian 20 alpha-hydroxysteroid dehydrogenase activity was delayed by about 8 h by Zn deficiency. This delay was not observed if prostaglandin F2 alpha was injected previously. 5. The results suggest a Zn-dependent step(s) in uterine synthesis and/or release of prostanoids.
Project description:The metabolism of [3H]progesterone in the rabbit endometrium and myometrium was studied in vitro. The major metabolities identified were 5alpha-pregnane-3,20-dione, 20alpha-hydroxypregn-4-en-3-one, 3beta-hydroxy-5alpha-preganan-20-one and 5alpha-pregnane-3beta,20alpha-diol. Other minor metabolites tentatively identified were 3alpha-hydroxy-5beta-pregnan-20-one,20alpha-hydroxy-5beta-pregnan-3-one and 5beta-pregnane-3alpha,20alpha-diol. The ability of the endometrium to metabolize progesterone on a unit weight bais was about 2.7 times that of the myometrium. The metabolism of [3H]progesterone in the rabbit uterus under the influnce of oestradiol-17beta and progesterone was studied. The ability of the oestradiol-treated rabbit uterus to metabolize progesterone was increased to 3.47 times that of the overiectomized control uterus, whereas the oestradiol-progesterone-treated rabbit uterus metabolized only 1.86 times that of the control. Study of the metabolism of progesterone with uterine subcellular preparations revealed that the 5alpha-reductase enzyme was present mainly in the nuclear fraction; 20alpha-hydroxysteroid dehydrogenase was found in the cytosol fraction and 3beta-hydroxysteroid dehydrogenase in the particulate fraction of the uterus. The metabolic pathways of progesterone in the rabbit uterine tissue are discussed.
Project description:Monitoring cervical structure and composition during pregnancy has high potential for prediction of preterm birth (PTB), a problem affecting 15 million newborns annually. We use in vivo Raman spectroscopy, a label-free, light-based method that provides a molecular fingerprint to non-invasively investigate normal and impaired cervical remodeling. Prostaglandins stimulate uterine contractions and are clinically used for cervical ripening during pregnancy. Deletion of cyclooxygenase-1 (Cox-1), an enzyme involved in production of these prostaglandins, results in delayed parturition in mice. Contrary to expectation, Cox-1 null mice displayed normal uterine contractility; therefore, this study sought to determine whether cervical changes could explain the parturition differences in Cox-1 null mice and gestation-matched wild type (WT) controls. Raman spectral changes related to extracellular matrix proteins, lipids, and nucleic acids were tracked over pregnancy and found to be significantly delayed in Cox-1 null mice at term. A cervical basis for the parturition delay was confirmed by other ex vivo tests including decreased tissue distensibility, hydration, and elevated progesterone levels in the Cox-1 null mice at term. In conclusion, in vivo Raman spectroscopy non-invasively detected abnormal remodeling in the Cox-1 null mouse, and clearly demonstrated that the cervix plays a key role in their delayed parturition.