We previously reported that keratinocyte growth factor (KGF) is up-regulated by the action of progesterone (P) in the primate endometrium, and we suggested that this protein is a likely mediator of P-dependent stromal-epithelial paracrine interactions in this tissue. At the end of the menstrual cycle, P levels fall, and the abundance of endometrial KGF transcripts decreases approximately 9-fold. In macaques, withdrawal of P induces the luteal-follicular transition (LFT), marked by menstrual sloughing of the functionalis zone and apoptotic regression of the basalis zone. Because KGF levels fall so dramatically during the LFT, we hypothesized that replacement with exogenous KGF during the LFT would prevent some of the endometrial changes seen after P withdrawal. Here we describe two studies of the effects of exogenously administered KGF during the LFT in rhesus macaques. In one experiment we administered KGF systemically to ovariectomized, juvenile rhesus macaques during an LFT induced by hormonal manipulations. KGF had dramatic proliferative effects on the bladder and salivary glands, known targets of KGF, but did not affect cell proliferation in the endometrium or block menstrual sloughing and bleeding. However, KGF strongly inhibited apoptosis in the basalis zone, increased glandular sacculation and folding in this zone, and had a marked trophic effect on the spiral arteries. In the second experiment we installed oviductal catheters in ovariectomized adult rhesus macaques and infused KGF directly into the uterine lumen during a hormonally induced LFT. Again, arteriotrophic, antiapoptotic, and basalis gland sacculation effects were observed in the absence of any effect on cell proliferation. We concluded that although KGF is mitogenic for many epithelial cell types, it does not play this role in the primate endometrium. Its most important roles may be to stimulate spiral artery growth and inhibit glandular apoptosis during the nonfertile menstrual cycle. Because its expression rises coincident with the time of implantation and because spiral arteries are essential to successful establishment of pregnancy, the role of KGF in the fertile menstrual cycle deserves further study.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism
- Clinical Biochemistry
- Biochemistry, medical