Uterine leiomyomas contain abundant quantities of extracellular matrix (ECM). We characterized the localization of three ECM proteins, collagen type I, collagen type III, and fibronectin, in leiomyomas and adjacent normal myometrium. We further examined the expression of messenger ribonucleic acid (mRNA) levels for these proteins from 1) women who were in various stages of the menstrual cycle and 2) multiple leiomyomas from the same patient. Immunohistochemical staining showed that fibronectin was localized primarily around individual smooth muscle cells (SMC). Collagen type I was distributed across the ECM and also in the cytoplasm of SMC. Collagen type III was found primarily in the ECM. Leiomyomas showed more intense staining for collagen types I and III than corresponding normal myometrium. Northern blot and densitometric analysis showed that both collagen type I and III mRNAs were consistently elevated in leiomyomas relative to the adjacent myometrium in patients who were in the proliferative phase of the menstrual cycle (P < 0.02 for both). These differences were not evident in the secretory phase. Fibronectin mRNA levels were quite variable, and there were no significant differences between the two tissues at any stage of the menstrual cycle. We conclude that leiomyomas show increased levels of mRNA for collagen types I and III relative to the normal myometrium. However, this difference is only manifested during the proliferative phase of the menstrual cycle. These findings suggest that leiomyomas may be more sensitive to the hormonal changes that occur during the menstrual cycle than is normal myometrium.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism
- Clinical Biochemistry
- Biochemistry, medical