Identification of genes differentially expressed in menstrual breakdown and repair

Premila Paiva, Michelle G. Lockhart, Jane E. Girling, Moshe Olshansky, Nicole Woodrow, Jennifer L. Marino, Martha Hickey, Peter A.W. Rogers

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STUDY QUESTION: Does the changing molecular profile of the endometrium during menstruation correlate with the histological profile of menstruation.

SUMMARY ANSWER: We identified several genes not previously associated with menstruation; on Day 2 of menstruation (early-menstruation), processes related to inflammation are predominantly up-regulated and on Day 4 (late-menstruation), the endometrium is predominantly repairing and regenerating.

WHAT IS KNOWN ALREADY: Menstruation is induced by progesterone withdrawal at the end of the menstrual cycle and involves endometrial tissue breakdown, regeneration and repair. Perturbations in the regulation of menstruation may result in menstrual disorders including abnormal uterine bleeding.

STUDY DESIGN, SIZE DURATION: Endometrial samples were collected by Pipelle biopsy on Days 2 (n = 9), 3 (n = 9) or 4 (n = 6) of menstruation.

PARTICIPANTS/MATERIALS, SETTING, METHODS: RNA was extracted from endometrial biopsies and analysed by genome wide expression Illumina Sentrix Human HT12 arrays. Data were analysed using 'Remove Unwanted Variation-inverse (RUV-inv)'. Ingenuity pathway analysis (IPA) and the Database for Annotation, Visualization and Integrated Discovery (DAVID) v6.7 were used to identify canonical pathways, upstream regulators and functional gene clusters enriched between Days 2, 3 and 4 of menstruation. Selected individual genes were validated by quantitative PCR.

MAIN RESULTS AND THE ROLE OF CHANCE: Overall, 1753 genes were differentially expressed in one or more comparisons. Significant canonical pathways, gene clusters and upstream regulators enriched during menstrual bleeding included those associated with immune cell trafficking, inflammation, cell cycle regulation, extracellular remodelling and the complement and coagulation cascade. We provide the first evidence for a role for glutathione-mediated detoxification (glutathione-S-transferase mu 1 and 2; GSTM1 and GSTM2) during menstruation. The largest number of differentially expressed genes was between Days 2 and 4 of menstruation (n = 1176). We identified several genes not previously associated with menstruation including lipopolysaccharide binding protein, serpin peptidase inhibitor, clade B (ovalbumin), member 3 (SERPINB3) and -4 (SERPINB4), interleukin-17C (IL17C), V-set domain containing T-cell activation inhibitor 1 (VTCN1), proliferating cell nuclear antigen factor (KIAA0101/PAF), trefoil factor 3 (TFF3), laminin alpha 2 (LAMA2) and serine peptidase inhibitor, Kazal type 1 (SPINK1). Genes related to inflammatory processes were up-regulated on Day 2 (early-menstruation), and those associated with endometrial repair and regeneration were up-regulated on Day 4 (late-menstruation).

LIMITATIONS, REASONS FOR CAUTION: Participants presented with a variety of endometrial pathologies related to bleeding status and other menstrual characteristics. These variations may also have influenced the menstrual process.

WIDER IMPLICATIONS OF THE FINDINGS: The temporal molecular profile of menstruation presented in this study identifies a number of genes not previously associated with the menstrual process. Our findings provide valuable insight into the menstrual process and may present novel targets for therapeutic intervention in cases of endometrial dysfunction.

LARGE SCALE DATA: All microarray data have been deposited in the public data repository Gene Expression Omnibus (GSE86003).

STUDY FUNDING AND COMPETING INTERESTS: Funding for this work was provided by a National Health and Medical Research Council of Australia (NHMRC) Project Grant APP1008553 to M.H., P.R. and J.G. M.H. is supported by an NHMRC Practitioner Fellowship. P.P. is supported by a NHMRC Early Career Fellowship. The authors have no conflict of interest to declare.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)898-912
Number of pages15
JournalMolecular Human Reproduction
Issue number12
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2016


  • endometrium
  • gene array
  • inflammation
  • menstruation
  • repair
  • RUV-inv

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