PROBLEM: Chemokines are increasingly recognized as important regulators of uterine function.
METHODS OF STUDY: The following is a review of uterine chemokines, especially monocyte chemotactic protein (MCP)-1, interleukin (IL)-8, and regulated-upon-activation normal-T-cell-expressed and -secreted (RANTES) protein, in reproductive physiology and pathology.
RESULTS: It is increasingly clear that IL-8, MCP-1, RANTES and their receptors are produced by endometrial, myometrial, and trophoblast cell types in a timed and co-ordinated manner. In addition to the regulation of leukocyte migration and function, uterine chemokines also display specific roles in endometrial angiogenesis, apoptosis, proliferation, and differentiation. IL-8, MCP-1 and RANTES are regulated by local growth factors and cytokines such as tumor necrosis factor-α (TNF-α), interferon-γ, and IL-1. IL-8 takes part in cervical ripening and parturition. IL-8, MCP-1 and RANTES are also found at high levels in the peritoneal fluid of women with endometriosis.
CONCLUSION: Co-ordination of chemokine–chemokine receptor interactions plays an important role in the menstrual cycle and successful pregnancy. Moreover, unbalanced chemokine expression contributes to pathologic conditions typified by uncontrolled cellular proliferation, migration and invasion.