The long-term actions of etonogestrel and levonorgestrel on decidualized and non-decidualized endometrium in a mouse model mimic some effects of progestogen-only contraceptives in women

Naomi B Morison, Jin Zhang, Tu'uhevaha J Kaitu'u-Lino, Ian S Fraser, Lois A Salamonsen

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16 Citations (Scopus)


Breakthrough bleeding (BTB), a major side effect of long-acting progestogen (p)-only contraceptives in women, is the main reason for discontinuation of their use. To understand the mechanisms of BTB, a mouse model of endometrial breakdown and repair was adapted to evaluate the effects of long-term progestogens on the endometrium. Appropriately prepared mice received either an etonogestrel (ENG)- or levonorgestrel (LNG)-releasing subdermal implant. Forty eight hours after decidualization was induced in one uterine horn the majority of tissues were highly decidualized, designated 0 day (0d). Uteri were collected subsequently at 5-day intervals (to 45d) and both decidualized and non-decidualized horns were analysed for morphological changes, leukocyte infiltration and matrix metalloproteinase expression (MMP). In decidualized horns, large blood vessels (BV) developed and disturbance of tissue integrity was observed at 5d with substantial stromal breakdown by 10d, progressing until 25d when re-epithelialization was initiated. By 45d, the tissue was restored to its pre-decidualized state but with considerable tortuosity of the luminal epithelium. Tissue remodelling was not apparent in the non-decidualized horns before 35d, when hyperproliferation of the luminal epithelium resulted in tortuosity. Changes in morphology were similar with the two progestogens, but occurred more rapidly with LNG. Apart from macrophages, few leukocytes were present in non-decidualized horns but large infiltrates of neutrophils and uterine natural killer cells (uNK) were associated with tissue breakdown in decidualized tissue, many of these cells were MMP9-positive. MMP7 was primarily associated with tissue repair. Therefore, this model mimics some of the changes observed in endometria of women using p-only contraceptives and provides an opportunity for functional studies.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)309 - 321
Number of pages13
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2007

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