Intracrine Androgens Enhance Decidualization and Modulate Expression of Human Endometrial Receptivity Genes

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

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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
Article number19970
JournalScientific Reports
Publication statusPublished - 28 Jan 2016
Externally publishedYes

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