Human Endometriosis Tissue Microarray Reveals Site-specific Expression of Estrogen Receptors, Progesterone Receptor, and Ki67

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Abstract

Most available therapies for endometriosis are hormone-based and generally broadly used without taking into consideration the ovarian hormone receptor expression status. This contrasts strikingly with the standard of care for other hormone-based conditions such as breast cancer. We therefore aimed to characterize the expression of ovarian steroid hormone receptors for estrogen alpha (ESR1), estrogen beta (ESR2), and progesterone (PGR) in different types of endometriotic lesions and eutopic endometrium from women with endometriosis and controls using a tissue microarray (TMA). Nuclear expression levels of the receptors were analyzed by tissue (ie, ectopic vs. eutopic endometrium) and cell type (ie, glands vs. stroma). Ovarian lesions showed the lowest expression of ESR1 and PGR, and the highest expression of ESR2, whereas the fallopian tube lesions showed high expression of the 3 receptors. Differences among endometria included lower expression of ESR1 and higher expression of ESR2 in stroma of proliferative endometrium from patients versus patients, and a trend towards loss of PGR nuclear positivity in proliferative endometrium from patients. The largest ESR2:ESR1 ratios were observed in ovarian lesions and secretory endometrium. The highest proportion of samples with >10% Ki67 positive nuclei was in glands of fallopian tube (54%) and extrapelvic lesions (75%); 60% of glands of secretory endometrium from patients had >10% Ki67 positivity compared with only 15% in controls. Our results provide a better understanding of endometriosis heterogeneity by revealing lesion type-specific differences and case-by-case variability in the expression of ovarian hormone receptors. This knowledge could potentially predict individual responses to hormone therapies, and set the basis for the application of personalized medicine approaches for women with endometriosis.

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