Background: Urocortin (UCN) gene expression and synthesis have been reported in epithelial and stromal cells of the human endometrium. In this study we evaluated (i) UCN messenger RNA (mRNA) expression and peptide production in uterine specimens collected throughout the endometrial cycle, (ii) UCN secretion after decidualization of cultured human endometrial stromal cells (HESCs) and (iii) the effect of UCN on endometrial decidualization. Methods: HESCs were isolated from samples of human endometrium collected from healthy patients with normal menstrual cycle and cultured in presence of cAMP, 17-beta-estradiol (E2) + medroxyprogesterone acetate (MPA) and UCN. UCN levels were measured in endometrial extracts by an enzyme immunoassay, and changes of endometrial UCN mRNA expression were measured by RT-PCR analysis. Results: UCN peptide concentrations and mRNA expression were highest in the secretory phase of the menstrual cycle (P <0.001, late secretory versus early and late proliferative phase) and higher in the late than the early secretory phase (P <0.01). After decidualization of HESC with cAMP or E2 + MPA, UCN levels rose in parallel with prolactin concentrations by days 6 (P <0.01, for all). Finally, the addition of UCN to HESCs, with or without E2 + MPA, induced the release of prolactin. Conclusions: The evidence that (i) UCN is highly expressed in the secretory phase of the endometrial cycle; (ii) cAMP and E2 + MPA modulate secretion of UCN and (iii) UCN induces HESCs decidualization together suggest a possible role for UCN in endometrial physiology.
- Corticotrophin-releasing factor receptor
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Developmental Biology
- Obstetrics and Gynaecology
- Reproductive Medicine