Progesterone receptor isoform A but not B is expressed in endometriosis

George R. Attia, Khaled Zeitoun, Dean Edwards, Alan Johns, Bruce R. Carr, Serdar E. Bulun

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

435 Scopus citations


We previously demonstrated that 17β hydroxysteroid dehydrogenase type 2, the enzyme that inactivates estradiol to estrone, is expressed in luteal eutopic endometrium in response to progesterone but not in simultaneously biopsied peritoneal endometriotic tissue. This molecular evidence of progesterone resistance, together with the clinical observation of resistance of endometriosis to treatment with progestins, led us to determine the levels of progesterone receptor (PR) isoforms PR-A and PR-B in eutopic endometrial and extra-ovarian endometriotic tissues. It was proposed that progesterone action on target genes is mediated primarily by homodimers of PR-B, whereas the truncated variant PR-A acts as a repressor of PR-B function. Immunoprecipitation, followed by Western blot analysis, was performed to detect bands specific for PR-A and PR-B in paired samples of endometriotic and eutopic endometrial tissues simultaneously biopsed from 18 women undergoing laparoscopy during various phases of the menstrual cycle. PR-B was present in 17 of 18 eutopic endometrial samples, and its level increased in the preovulatory phase, as expected, whereas PR-A was detected in all samples (n = 18) with a similar, but less prominent, cyclic variation in its levels. In endometriotic samples, however, no detectable PR-B could be demonstrated, whereas PR-A was detected in all samples (n = 18), albeit in much lower levels and without any cyclic variation in contrast with the eutopic endometrium. Levels of PR-A and PR-B in endometriotic and eutopic endometrial tissues were determined and compared after normalization to total protein and estrogen receptor-α levels. Using RNase protection assay, we also demonstrated indirectly that only PR-A transcripts were present in endometriotic tissue samples (n = 8), whereas both PR-A and PR-B transcripts were readily detectable in all eutopic endometrial samples (n = 8). This was indicative that failure to detect PR-B protein in endometriotic tissues is due to the absence of PR-B transcripts. We conclude that progesterone resistance in endometriotic tissue from laboratory and clinical observations may be accounted for by the presence of the inhibitory PR isoform PR-A and the absence of the stimulatory isoform PR-B.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2897-2902
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism
Issue number8
StatePublished - 2000

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism
  • Biochemistry
  • Endocrinology
  • Clinical Biochemistry
  • Biochemistry, medical


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