Effects of progesterone on uterine leiomyoma growth and apoptosis
Maruo,Takeshi; Matsuo,Hiroya; Samoto,Takashi; Shimomura,Yosuke; Kurachi,Osamu; Gao,Zhijian; Wang,Yin; Spitz,Irving M.; Johansson,Elof D.B.
Steroids 65(10-11): 585-592
Publication date: 2000
Uterine leiomyomas appear during the reproductive years and regress after menopause, indicating the ovarian steroid-dependent growth potential. Recently we have found that the use of levonorgestrel-releasing intrauterine system (IUS) is effective in the long-term contraception and management of menorrhagic women with uterine myomas because of a striking reduction in menorrhagia. These clinical experiences prompted us to characterize the effects of progestin on the proliferation and apoptosis of leiomyoma cells cultured in vitro. As epidermal growth factor (EGF) has been shown to mediate estrogen action and play a crucial role in regulating leiomyoma growth, we also investigated the effects of sex steroids on EGF and EGF receptor (EGF-R) expression in leiomyoma cells. In cultures of leiomyoma cells, the addition of either E (10 ng/ml) or P (100 ng/ml) resulted in an increase in proliferating cell nuclear antigen (PCNA) expression in the cells; whereas in cultures of normal myometrial cells, the addition of E augmented PCNA expression in the cells, but P did not. Immunoblot analysis revealed that leiomyoma cells contained immunoreactive EGF and that P treatment resulted in an increase in EGF expression in the cells. In contrast, E treatment augmented EGF-R expression in cultured leiomyoma cells, but P did not. These results indicate that P up-regulates the expression of PCNA and EGF in leiomyoma cells, whereas E up-regulates the expression of PCNA and EGF-R in those cells. It is, therefore, conceivable that P and E act in combination to stimulate the proliferative potential of leiomyoma cells through the induction of EGF and EGF-R expression. We also found that Bcl-2 protein, an apoptosis-inhibiting gene product, was abundantly expressed in leiomyoma relative to that in normal myometrium, suggesting that the abundant expression of Bcl-2 protein in leiomyoma cells may be one of the molecular bases for the enhanced growth of leiomyoma relative to that of normal myometrium in the uterus. Furthermore, Bcl-2 protein expression in leiomyoma cells was up-regulated by P, but down-regulated by E. Therefore, it seems likely that P may also participate in leiomyoma growth through the induction of Bcl-2 protein in leiomyoma cells.