Expression of desmin, laminin and fibronectin during in situ differentiation (decidualization) of rat uterine stromal cells


offprint requests to: Stanley R. Glasser, Ph.D.


Abstract. Immunocytochemical analysis of frozen rat uterine sections containing decidual tissue, formed in response to normal or artificial stimulation of uteri sensitized by endogenous or exogenous hormonal regimens, demonstrated an elevated expression of the intermediate filament protein desmin in decidual cells. Changes in the expression of extracellular matrix (ECM) components were coordinated with the elevated expression of desmin as stromal cells underwent decidualization. In parallel with the pattern of regional decidualization, as determined by elevated desmin expression, laminin accumulated in ECM of decidual cells while an apparent decrease in fibronectin was associated with altered organization at the decidual cell surface. The in situ observations confirm previous results, which indicated that the expression of desmin in decidual cells formed in vivo or in vitro is a valid marker of their differentiation, and resolve questions unanswered in the previous study: (a) desmin (and laminin) appear to be constitutively expressed in non-decidualized stroma at barely detectable levels, (b) desmin is a valid marker of stromal cell differentiation because it is expressed similarly in decidual cells, irrespective of varying experimental protocols for uterine sensitization and stimulation, and (c) desmin expression follows the same regional progression described for the process of decidualization in morphological and histochemical studies.