In vivo levels of mRNA and the specificity of the extrauterine environment on matrix metalloproteinase (MMP)-3, MMP-2, and tissue inhibitor of matrix metalloproteinase (TIMP)-1 were evaluated in eutopic and ectopic endometrial tissue during the establishment of endometriosis in a rat model. Uteri and endometriotic implants were collected and frozen at 36 h, 2 wk, and 4 wk postsurgery to study in vivo mRNA levels. Intact uteri, uterine tissues implanted in the peritoneum or under the skin, and peritoneal adipose implants were collected at 2 wk, halved, and either frozen or cultured. Gene-specific reverse transcriptase-polymerase chain reaction was performed to detect and quantify MMP-2, MMP-3, and TIMP-1 mRNA levels. The peritoneal endometriotic implants progressed from avascularized implants, to vascularized red lesions, to well-established encapsulated cysts. In vivo, MMP-3 mRNA was detectable at all times in ectopic tissues but not in eutopic uterine tissues, whereas MMP-2 and TIMP-1 were ubiquitously expressed at all times in both tissues. In vitro, only MMP-3 mRNA levels were elevated in endometrial tissues collected from the intact uterine and from under the skin, at levels similar to in vivo endometriotic implant MMP-3. In conclusion, ectopic endometrial MMP-3 may participate in the process of invasion and tissue remodeling that is hypothesized to occur in the pathogenesis of endometriosis.
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