PROBLEM: The present study examined the presence and cellular distribution of transforming growth factor-β1, 2, and 3 isoforms and their type I and II receptors in endometriotic cysts of the ovary, relative to their presence in normal endometrial tissue.
METHOD OF STUDY: Thirteen control samples of normal endometrium in the proliferative phase and 11 ovarian endometriotic cysts were examined by immunohistochemistry for transforming growth factor-β1, 2, and 3 isoforms and their type I and II receptors.
RESULTS: Immunoreactivity for all ligands and receptors was detected in both normal endometrium and endometriotic cysts. Isoform-specific differences in immunostaining were not detected. Expression of all ligands and receptors was significantly increased in epithelial cells of endometriotic cysts compared with those of normal endometrium. On the other hand, stromal cells in normal endometrium and endometriotic cysts were only faintly immunostained. Inflammatory cells infiltrating among endometriotic stromal cells contained the highest immunostaining intensity for all ligands and receptors. We identified nearly all inflammatory cells as macrophages using a specific antibody.
CONCLUSIONS: These findings suggest that macrophages in endometriotic tissue are a major source of transforming growth factor-β, which may be an important regulator of cell proliferation in endometriotic cysts through paracrine and autocrine actions.