AIM: To obtain insight into the effects of oestrogen on extracellular matrix (ECM) in the postmenopausal endometrium. METHODS: The distribution of the components of the ECM, including collagen types I, III, IV, and VI, and laminin, was investigated in the human postmenopausal endometrium by an indirect immunofluorescence method with specific monoclonal antibodies and a polyclonal antibody. Collagens were also extracted from the endometrial tissues of postmenopausal women who had or had not been treated with oestrogen for three weeks. RESULTS: Immunohistochemical studies demonstrated that type I collagen was the predominant interstitial collagen, and that types III and VI collagens were absent or very sparsely distributed in the stroma of the postmenopausal endometrium. However, types I, III, and VI collagens were diffusely localised in the stroma of the postmenopausal endometrium after administration of oestrogen. Even though type IV collagen was not seen in the basement membrane of the endometrial glands in the endometrium of postmenopausal women in the absence of oestrogen treatment, both type IV collagen and laminin were localised exclusively in the basement membrane of the endometrial glands in the postmenopausal endometrium after three weeks of oestrogen treatment. The level of type III collagen relative to that of type I collagen was significantly increased (p < 0.01) in the endometrium of oestrogen treated postmenopausal women compared with non-treated postmenopausal women. CONCLUSIONS: Conjugated equine oestrogen might induce changes in the distribution of components and in the composition of the ECM in the endometrium of postmenopausal women.
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