Expression of vascular endothelial growth factor by granulated metrial gland cells in pregnant murine uteri
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Granulated metrial gland (GMG) cells are a characteristic uterine component belonging to a natural killer cell lineage. This study is aimed at revealing their kinetic and spatial relationship with vascular growth during pregnancy and the expression of vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF). GMG cells and blood vessels were identified by periodic-acid-Schiff-reagent (PAS)-stained granules and positive staining for factor-VIII-related antigen, respectively. GMG cells were widely distributed in the decidua and metrial gland and showed a numerical increase with a peak at day 13 in parallel with the increase of vascular density. Preceding the maximal vascular development at day 13, microvessels with a narrow lumen representative of neovascularization prevailed at days 7–9, and the VEGF content in the decidua/metrial gland was significantly elevated at days 7–13 concurrently with mRNA expression. By immunolight microscopy combined with PAS staining, GMG cells with PAS-stained granules were positive for VEGF. Immunoelectron microscopy demonstrated that immunoreactions were diffuse in the cytoplasm but not localized in the granules. In contrast, fibroblast-like stromal cells were negative. These data indicate that GMG cells express VEGF and may play inducing roles in uterine neovascularization during pregnancy.
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