The human endometrium is incredibly dynamic, undergoing monthly cycles of growth and regression during a woman's reproductive life. Endometrial repair at the cessation of menstruation is critical for reestablishment of a functional endometrium receptive for embryo implantation; however, little is understood about the mechanisms behind this rapid and highly efficient process. This study utilized a functional mouse model of endometrial breakdown and repair to assess changes in endometrial vasculature that accompany these dynamic processes. Given that adult endometrial stem/progenitor cells identified in human and mouse endometrium are likely contributors to the remarkable regenerative capacity of endometrium, we also assessed label-retaining cells (LRC) as candidate stromal stem/progenitor cells and examined their relationship with endometrial vasculature. Newborn mouse pups were pulse-labeled with bromodeoxyuridine (BrdU) and chased for 5 wk before decidualization, endometrial breakdown, and repair were induced by hormonal manipulation. Mean vessel density did not change significantly throughout breakdown and repair; however, significantly elevated endothelial cell proliferation was observed in decidual tissue. Stromal LRC were identified throughout breakdown and repair, with significantly fewer observed during endometrial repair than before decidualization. A significantly higher percentage of LRC were associated with vasculature during repair than before decidualization, and a proportion were undergoing proliferation, indicative of their functional capacity. This study is the first to examine the endometrial vasculature and candidate stromal stem/progenitor cells in a functional mouse model of endometrial breakdown and repair and provides functional evidence suggesting that perivascular LRC may contribute to endometrial stromal expansion during the extensive remodeling associated with this process.
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Vol. 86 • No. 6