Increased Expression of the Relaxin Receptor (LGR7) in Human Endometrium during the Secretory Phase of the Menstrual Cycle

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Abstract

Relaxin (RLX) is a structural homolog of insulin that is the ligand for the LGR7 receptor. Although the 6k peptide is produced by the ovaries to cause connective tissue remodeling of the rodent and pig reproductive tracts to facilitate parturition, in human reproduction, the role of RLX is less well understood. Binding of human gene 2 (H2) [33P]-RLX, expression of RLX peptides and the LGR7 receptor was examined in the human uterus at different stages of the menstrual cycle. A significant increase in RLX receptor binding in endometrium was identified by quantitative autoradiography in the secretory compared with the proliferative phase. H2RLX competed with [33P]-H2RLX binding with higher affinity than porcine RLX during both the proliferative and secretory phases. Increased LGR7 receptor gene expression during the secretory phase paralleled the changes in [33P]-H2RLX binding. Human gene 1 RLX transcripts were not detected in the uterus, and H2RLX gene expression was low and not influenced by the stage of the menstrual cycle. The studies show that binding to and gene expression of the LGR7 RLX receptor changes markedly with the phases of the menstrual cycle, suggesting a specific role for the hormone in the physiology of the human uterus.

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