Mechanisms involved in the evolution of progestin resistance in human endometrial hyperplasia - Precursor of endometrial cancer

Sa Wang, Jeffery Pudney, Joon Song, Gil Mor, Peter E. Schwartz, Wenxin Zheng

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

63 Scopus citations


Background. Successful treatment of endometrial hyperplasia with progestins is commonly accompanied by the finding of an inactive or suppressed endometrium after therapy. However, approximately 30% of the endometrial hyperplasia cases do not respond to progestins and hyperplastic glands persist. The Fas/FasL system is known to play a role in tissue remodeling as a result of changes in menstrual hormone levels. The aims of this study are to examine Fas/FasL expression in endometrial hyperplasia of pre- and postprogestin treatment samples and to study the Fas/FasL regulation in vitro with Ishikawa cells after progestin stimulation. Design. Pre- and posttreatment paraffin-embedded endometrial hyperplasia tissue samples from 26 women were examined by immunohistochemistry for changes in Fas/FasL expression related to the administration of progestins. Among 26 patients, 18 were successfully treated with progestins and 8 failed treatment. Fas/ FasL positivity was defined by the presence of 10% or more immunoreactive epithelial cells in each specimen. In positive cases, a percentage or an immunoscore of immunoreactive cells was given by counting 500 cells. Cell viability was evaluated by the MTT assay. The in vitro effects of progesterone on Fas/FasL expression and apoptosis in Ishikawa cells were examined by using Western blot and TUNEL assays, respectively. Results. Fas immunoreactivity was present in 4/26 (15%) preprogestin cases with an average of 16% of the epithelial cells expressing Fas. FasL was expressed in 21/26 (80%) pretreatment cases with an average of 42% of the hyperplastic glandular cells being positive. In postprogestin cases, an increase of Fas expression (14/18, 77%) with an average of 47% stained cells was seen in responders (P < 0.001), while FasL was found in 16/18 (89%) responders with an average of 65% of cells positive (P = 0.587). In nonresponders, no significant changes in Fas/FasL expression were detected compared to pretreatment samples. With in vitro Ishikawa cells, a slight increase (10-20%) of Fas and FasL protein expression was detected after 24 h of progesterone treatment, but a more significant increase (220-343%) of both Fas and FasL expression was found after 48 h of withdrawing progesterone, which parallels apoptotic activity. Conclusions. The Fas/FasL system may be involved in the development of endometrial hyperplasia. Part of the molecular mechanisms of progestin therapy for endometrial hyperplasia is through upregulation of Fas/FasL expression. Dysregulation of Fas/FasL expression in hyperplastic endometrium may be part of the molecular mechanisms for nonresponders to progestin treatment. Intermittent, rather than continuous, progestin treatment may be more effective clinically for the treatment of endometrial hyperplasia.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)108-117
Number of pages10
JournalGynecologic oncology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 1 2003


  • Apoptosis
  • Endometrial hyperplasia
  • Fas/FasL
  • Progestin

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Obstetrics and Gynecology


Dive into the research topics of 'Mechanisms involved in the evolution of progestin resistance in human endometrial hyperplasia - Precursor of endometrial cancer'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this