Endometrium and steroids, a pathologic overview
Normal endometrial function requires of cell proliferation and differentiation; therefore, disturbances in these processes could lead to pathological entities such as hyperplasia and endometrial adenocarcinoma, where cell proliferation is increased. The development of these pathologies is highly related to alterations in the levels and/or action of sexual steroids. In the present review, it has been analyzed how steroids, particularly estrogens, androgens and progestagens are involved in the etiopathogenesis of hyperplasia and endometrial endometrioid adenocarcinoma. The emphasis is given on pathological and pharmacological conditions that are presented as risk factors for endometrial pathologies, such as obesity, polycystic ovarian syndrome and hormone replacement postmenopausal women therapy, among others. Steroids alterations may promote changes at molecular level that enhance the development of hyperplasia and endometrioid cancer. In fact, there are solid data that indicate that estrogens stimulate cell-proliferation in this tissue; meanwhile, progestagens are able to stop cell proliferation and to increase differentiation. Nevertheless, the role of androgens is less clear, since there is contradictory information. It is most likely that the major contribution of steroids to the development of cell proliferation pathologies in endometria would be in early stages, where there is a high sensitivity to these molecules. This phenomenon is present even in stages previous to the occurrence of hyperplasia, like in the condition of polycystic ovarian syndrome, where the endometria have a greater sensitivity to steroids and high expression of cell cycle molecules. These abnormalities would contribute to the pathogenesis of hyperplasia and then in the progression to endometrioid adenocarcinoma.