Intracrine androgens enhance decidualization and modulate expression of human endometrial receptivity genes

Douglas A Gibson, Ioannis Simitsidellis, Fiona Cousins, Hilary O. D. Critchley, Philippa T. K. Saunders

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

The endometrium is a complex, steroid-dependent tissue that undergoes dynamic cyclical remodelling. Transformation of stromal fibroblasts (ESC) into specialised secretory cells (decidualization) is fundamental to the establishment of a receptive endometrial microenvironment which can support and maintain pregnancy. Androgen receptors (AR) are present in ESC; in other tissues local metabolism of ovarian and adrenal-derived androgens regulate AR-dependent gene expression. We hypothesised that altered expression/activity of androgen biosynthetic enzymes would regulate tissue availability of bioactive androgens and the process of decidualization. Primary human ESC were treated in vitro for
1–8 days with progesterone and cAMP (decidualized) in the presence or absence of the AR antagonist flutamide. Time and treatment-dependent changes in genes essential for a) intra-tissue biosynthesis of androgens (5α-reductase/SRD5A1, aldo-keto reductase family 1 member C3/AKR1C3), b)
establishment of endometrial decidualization (IGFBP1, prolactin) and c) endometrial receptivity (SPP1, MAOA, EDNRB) were measured. Decidualization of ESC resulted in significant time-dependent changes in expression of AKR1C3 and SRD5A1 and secretion of T/DHT. Addition of flutamide significantly
reduced secretion of IGFBP1 and prolactin and altered the expression of endometrial receptivity markers. Intracrine biosynthesis of endometrial androgens during decidualization may play a key role in endometrial receptivity and offer a novel target for fertility treatment.
Original languageEnglish
JournalScientific Reports
Early online date28 Jan 2016
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 28 Jan 2016

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