Cell death and proliferation and its relation to collagen degradation in uterine involution of rat.
Collagen concentration, procollagenase localization, and their association with cell proliferation and apoptosis during postpartum involution, were investigated biochemically and histochemically in postpartum day 1, 3, 5, and 7 rat uterine tissues. In control animals, uterine wet weight, soluble protein, and collagen decreased rapidly during days 1 to 3 postpartum, and the DNA concentration in the uterine horn rapidly decreased, as noted by others. Simultaneously, both apoptosis and cell proliferation were observed in these tissues. These processes were highest in smooth muscle cells on day 3 postpartum. Procollagenase was found in the cell cytoplasm through days 1 to 3 postpartum, was highest on the third day postpartum, and appeared to gradually diminish by day 5 postpartum. Disorganization of collagen fibers was observed, under polarized microscopy by a strong birefringence of collagen fibers of the circular smooth muscle cell layers. However, this disorganization of the uterine collagen diminished progressively from day 3 to day 7. Treatment with estradiol or a combination of estradiol and progesterone suppressed cellular turnover and attenuated the changes in DNA, total amino acids, and collagen on day 3 postpartum. In this study, cellular turnover and biochemical and morphological changes appeared to be closely associated. Gonadal steroid hormones appear to influence these changes and retard uterine involution. This study suggests that a dynamic turnover of the cellular population takes place during uterine involution. It is possible that other factors, in addition to steroid hormones, contribute to uterine involution. It is to be postulated that these factors either are themselves decreased or, alternatively, may increase the inhibition of other unknown factors by an indirect mechanism.
Takamoto, N; Leppert, PC; Yu, SY
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