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Lack of cyclical fluctuations of endometrial GLUT4 expression in women with polycystic ovary syndrome: Evidence for direct regulation of GLUT4 by steroid hormones

Journal article
Authors Peng Cui
Xin Li
Xiaoqin Wang
Yi Feng
Jin-Fang Lin
Håkan Billig
Linus Ruijin Shao
Published in BBA Clinical
Volume 4
Pages 85-91
Publication year 2015
Published at Institute of Neuroscience and Physiology, Department of Physiology
Pages 85-91
Language en
Subject categories Internal medicine


Background Determination of the role of steroid hormones in expression and regulation of endometrial glucose transport 4 (GLUT4) in humans is important for understanding endometrial disorders such as polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), a common hormone-imbalance disease. Methods Endometrial biopsy samples were collected from non-PCOS patients with regular menstrual cycles or with hyperplasia and from PCOS patients with or without hyperplasia. In addition, endometrial tissues from postmenopausal women were incubated with human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG, 10 IU/ml), 17β-estradiol (E2, 10 nM), progesterone (P4, 100 nM), or a combination of E2 and P4 for 24 h. The expression of GLUT4 was measured at the mRNA level using quantitative real-time polymerase chain reaction (qRT-PCR) and at the protein level using Western blot analysis and immunohistochemistry. Results A cyclical change in GLUT4 expression pattern was observed in non-PCOS patients, and a high level of GLUT4 expression was seen in the proliferative phase compared to the secretory phase. Low levels of GLUT4 expression were found in PCOS patients compared to menstrual cycle phase-matched non-PCOS patients, and there was no significant change in GLUT4 expression in PCOS patients during the menstrual cycle. GLUT4 was localized in both epithelial and stromal cells, with notable changes in epithelial cells. We postulate that decreased GLUT4 expression might be regulated by steroid hormones. In support of this, we showed that in cultured endometrial tissues hCG and E2 alone had no effect on GLUT4 expression. However, P4 alone and P4 in combination with E2 decreased GLUT4 expression. Compared with non-PCOS controls, PCOS patients with endometrial hyperplasia exhibited decreased GLUT4 expression in particular in the epithelial cells. Conclusion We conclude that P4 can induce changes in endometrial GLUT4 expression during the menstrual cycle and that abnormal hormonal conditions such as PCOS disrupt normal patterns of GLUT4 expression in endometrial cells.

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