Molecular human reproduction

Membrane-type matrix metalloproteinases and vascularization in human endometrium during the menstrual cycle.

PMID 16415334


Endometrial angiogenesis is essential for a vascularized receptive endometrium. Previously, we described that membrane type-3 metalloproteinase (MT3-MMP) is associated with endometrial angiogenesis in vitro. The association of MT-MMPs with endometrial angiogenesis in vivo is unknown. Therefore, this study analysed the presence of MT-MMPs in human endometrium and their correlation with neovascularization. RNA/protein expressions of the six MT-MMPs were determined in cultured endometrial cells. Vascularization parameters and MT-MMP expressions in vivo were evaluated by immunohistochemistry in serial endometrium sections. MT1-, MT2-, MT3- and MT4-MMP antigens were expressed in cultured endometrial endothelial cells. MT2-, MT3- and MT4-MMP were expressed by endothelium during the proliferative and secretory phase. Strikingly, these phases showed elevated vascularization, elevated total vascular surface in proliferative phases, elevated number of vessels in proliferative/late secretory phases and increased luminal surface in the proliferative phases. All MT-MMP antigens were expressed in various endometrial cell types in vivo, with decreased levels during the early secretory phase. In conclusion, all MT-MMPs are expressed in endometrium in a cycle-dependent pattern. The vascular expression of MT2-, MT3- and MT4-MMP correlated with angiogenic episodes of the cycle. Since MT2- and MT3-MMP are known to regulate tube formation, these findings support earlier in vitro data on the role of MT3-MMP in endometrial angiogenesis. Additionally, MT2-MMP appears to be associated with endometrial neovascularization also.