Experiments were conducted using female golden hamsters to identify the presence of nerve growth factor (NGF) and its receptors NTRK1 and TNFRSF1B in the uteri of female animals and regulation on their expression by estrogen and progesterone. NGF and its receptor NTRK1 were immunolocalized to luminal epithelial cells, glandular cells, and stromal cells. TNFRSF1B was immunolocalized in luminal epithelial and glandular cells, with no staining found in stromal cells of the uterine horns of normal cyclic golden hamsters. Strong immunostaining of NGF and its receptors NTRK1 and TNFRSF1B was observed in uteri on the day of proestrus as compared to the other stages of the estrous cycle. Results of immunoblot analysis of NGF revealed that there was a positive correlation between uterine NGF expression and plasma concentrations of estradiol-17β. To clarify the effects of estrogen and progesterone on NGF, NTRK1, and TNFRSF1B expression, adult female golden hamsters were ovariectomized and treated with estradiol-17β and/or progesterone. Immunoblot analysis and immunohistochemistry indicated that estradiol-17β stimulated expression of NGF and its two receptors in the uterus. Treatment with progesterone also increased NGF and NTRK1 expression in the uterus. However, no additive effect of these steroids on expression of NGF and its receptors was observed. Changes in uterine weights induced by estradiol-17β and/or progesterone showed the same profile with that of NGF, suggesting that a proliferative act of NGF may be involved in uterine growth. These results suggest that NGF may play important roles in action of steroids on uterine function.
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