Transforming growth factor beta mediates the progesterone suppression of an epithelial metalloproteinase by adjacent stroma in the human endometrium.


Unlike most normal adult tissues, cyclic growth and tissue remodeling occur within the uterine endometrium throughout the reproductive years. The matrix metalloproteinases (MMPs), a family of structurally related enzymes that degrade specific components of the extracellular matrix are thought to be the physiologically relevant mediators of extracellular matrix composition and turnover. Our laboratory has identified MMPs of the stromelysin family in the cycling human endometrium, implicating these enzymes in mediating the extensive remodeling that occurs in this tissue. While the stromelysins are expressed in vivo during proliferation-associated remodeling and menstruation-associated endometrial breakdown, none of the stromelysins are expressed during the progesterone-dominated secretory phase of the cycle. Our in vitro studies of isolated cell types have confirmed progesterone suppression of stromal MMPs, but a stromal-derived paracrine factor was found necessary for suppression of the epithelial-specific MMP matrilysin. In this report, we demonstrate that transforming growth factor beta (TGF-beta) is produced by endometrial stroma in response to progesterone and can suppress expression of epithelial matrilysin independent of progesterone. Additionally, we find that an antibody directed against the mammalian isoforms of TGF-beta abolishes progesterone suppression of matrilysin in stromal-epithelial cocultures, implicating TGF-beta as the principal mediator of matrilysin suppression in the human endometrium.