Differential expression of Wnt signaling molecules between pre- and postmenopausal endometrial epithelial cells suggests a population of putative epithelial stem/progenitor cells reside in the basalis layer

Hong Phuong Thi Nguyen, Carl Norman Sprung, Caroline Eve Gargett

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

26 Citations (Scopus)


The human endometrium undergoes extensive monthly regeneration in response to fluctuating levels of circulating estrogen and progesterone in premenopausal (Pre-M) women. In contrast, postmenopausal (Post-M) endometrium is thin and quiescent with low mitotic activity, similar to the Pre-M endometrial basalis layer. Clonogenic epithelial stem/progenitor (ESP) cells, likely responsible for regenerating endometrial epithelium, have been identified in Pre-M and Post-M endometrium, but their location is unknown. We undertook transcriptional profiling of highly purified epithelial cells from full-thickness Pre-M and Post-M endometrium to identify differentially regulated genes that may indicate a putative ESP cell population resides in the basalis of Pre-M and basalis-like Post-M endometrium. Of 1077 differentially expressed genes identified, the Wnt signaling pathway, important in endometrial development and stem cell regulation, was one of the main gene families detected, including 22 Wnt-associated genes. Twelve genes were validated using quantitative RT-PCR, and all were concordant with microarray data. Immunostaining showed glandular epithelial location of Wnt-regulated genes, Axin-related protein 2 and beta-catenin. Axin2 localized to the nucleus of basalis Pre-M and Post-M and cytoplasm of functionalis Pre-M endometrium, suggesting that it regulates beta-catenin. Comparison of our Post-M gene profile with published gene microarray datasets revealed similarities to Pre-M basalis epithelial profiles. This differential expression of multiple Wnt-associated genes in human Pre-M and Post-M endometrial epithelial cells and the similar gene profile of Post-M and Pre-M basalis epithelium suggests that a population of putative endometrial ESP may reside in the basalis of Pre-M endometrium, which may be responsible for regenerating glandular epithelium each month.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2870 - 2883
Number of pages14
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 2012

Cite this