Macrophage migration inhibitory factor (MIF) was discovered as an activated T-lymphocyte-derived protein that inhibits the random migration of macrophages in vitro. Subsequently, knowledge of the physiological actions of MIF was extended to include its role as a proinflammatory cytokine that affects several functions of macrophages and lymphocytes. Previous reports have suggested an involvement of MIF in reproduction. However, no data are currently available on the presence of this cytokine in the human endometrium. In this study, the expression and tissue localization of MIF was evaluated in specimens of cycling endometrium, first trimester placenta bed biopsy, and isolated endometrial glands by Western blot analysis, immunohistochemistry, ELISA, and reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction. The results demonstrated that MIF is expressed in human endometrium across the menstrual cycle and in early pregnancy. Immunohistochemical localization identified the protein in glandular epithelium, in stromal and predecidualized stromal cells of cycling endometrium, as well as in the decidua of first-trimester placenta. The proinflammatory features and specific actions of MIF on lymphoid cells suggest its potential involvement in several aspects of endometrial physiology.
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