Effect of estrogen on human endometrial epithelial cell growth and differentiation in vitro.


Although physiologic parameters regulating endometrial proliferation and secretory maturation during the normal menstrual cycle are well characterized, cellular and molecular interactions directing these events under the influence of a changing hormonal milieu remain unclear. In the present study, the effect of estradiol on the growth and acquisition of differentiated function of purified endometrial epithelium was examined in an established model. Epithelial cells were isolated with high purity from human endometrial biopsies. When cultured on a biomatrix bed, cells established a polarized monolayer with gland-like invaginations. Cells isolated throughout the menstrual cycle were cultured under serum-free conditions, with or without estradiol, and secretion of tumor-associated epitope TAG-72 was monitored by radioimmunoassay. Under steroid-free conditions, cells exhibited a distinct proliferative interval, followed by the acquisition of TAG-72 epitope secretory capability. Although estradiol had no apparent effect on proliferation or spatial organization of epithelial cells, a striking inhibition of TAG-72 epitope secretion was evident. This observation is believed to represent a direct effect of estradiol on endometrial epithelial cells in this model.