Repair of the postmenstrual endometrium presents a unique opportunity to examine nonscarring repair in an adult tissue. We aimed to characterize and determine the importance of extracellular matrix (ECM) dynamics in cell migration during endometrial repair. Utilizing an in vivo mouse model of postmenstrual repair and an in vitro model of human endometrial re-epithelialization, we determined the dynamic changes in expression of ECM and related factors in both models by array analysis of repairing areas. We also validated expression of integrins, growth factors, protease inhibitors, basement membrane, and adhesion molecules in vitro and in both mouse and human repairing endometrium by quantitative RT-PCR and immunohistochemical studies. Finally, we determined the functional importance of integrin–fibronectin interactions and matrix metalloprotease (MMP)-facilitated cell movement during re-epithelialization and propose a model for cell locomotion during postmenstrual repair. These data demonstrated the dynamic expression and functional importance of ECM interactions in endometrial repair, which may be important for scar-free repair.
Dynamic alterations in extracellular matrix expression are essential for endometrial repair.