Differential Expression of IR-A, IR-B and IGF-1R in Endometrial Physiology and Distinct Signature in Adenocarcinoma

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Type 2 diabetes and obesity are risk factors for endometrial hyperplasia and cancer, suggesting that hyperinsulinemia contributes to pathogenesis. Insulin action through insulin receptor (IR) splice variants IR-A and IR-B regulates cellular mitogenesis and metabolism, respectively.


We hypothesized that IR-A and IR-B are differentially regulated in normal endometrium, according to mitogenic and metabolic requirements through the menstrual cycle, as well as in endometrial hyperplasia and cancer.


IR-A, IR-B, and IGF-1 receptor (IGF-1R) mRNA was quantified in endometrium, endometrial epithelial and stromal cells, and in vitro after hormone stimulation.


Academic center.


Endometrium was collected from women with regular cycles (n = 71), complex hyperplasia (n = 5), or endometrioid adenocarcinoma (n = 11).


In vitro sex-steroid treatment.

Main Outcome Measure(s):

IR-A and IR-B expression


IR-A increased dramatically during the early proliferative phase, 20-fold more than IR-B. In early secretory phase, IR-B and IGF-1R expression increased, reaching maximal expression, whereas IR-A decreased. In adenocarcinoma, IR-B and IGF-1R expression was 5- to 6-fold higher than normal endometrium, whereas IR-A expression was similar to IR-B. Receptor expression was unrelated to body mass index.


IR-A was elevated during the normal proliferative phase, and in endometrial hyperplasia and adenocarcinoma. The dramatic early rise of IR-A in normal endometrium indicates IR-A is the predominant isoform responsible for initial estrogen-independent endometrial proliferation as well as that of cancer. IR-B is elevated during the normal secretory phase when glucose uptake and glycogen synthesis support embryo development. Differing from other cancers, IR-B expression equals mitogenic IR-A in endometrial adenocarcinoma. Differential IR isoform expression suggests a distinct role for each in endometrial physiology and cancer.

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