Skip to main content
Characterization of Uterine Epithelium Apoptotic Cell Death Kinetics and Regulation by Progesterone and RU 486
The American Journal of Pathology
  • Rocco J. Rotello, Cedarville University
  • Rita C. Lieberman, University of Colorado
  • Ronald B. Lepoff, University of Colorado
  • Lazaro E. Gerschenson, University of Colorado
Document Type
Publication Date
PubMed ID
PubMed Central® ID
The authors show here that progesterone suppresses apoptosis, and its antagonist RU 486 induces it in rabbit uterine epithelium, as assessed by morphologic and biochemical studies. The authors' studies demonstrate that internucleosomal DNA fragments are identifiable as early as 24 hours after ovariectomy of pseudopregnant rabbits, and become undetectable 6 days after ovariectomy. Maximal levels of DNA fragmentation (about 74% of total isolated DNA) were observed 36 hours after ovariectomy. The number of apoptotic cells appeared to increase parallel to the increased DNA breakdown, and accounted for approximately 26% of the uterine epithelial cells at 48 hours after ovariectomy. Levels of progesterone in serum dropped precipitously 6 hours after ovariectomy and remained very low for several days. Administration of progesterone, more than any other steroid hormone, to pseudopregnant ovariectomized rabbits, prevented the increase in apoptotic cell death. By contrast, administration of the anti-progestin RU 486 to pseudopregnant rabbits triggered apoptosis, which attained levels similar to those observed in ovariectomized animals. The authors' findings establish that uterine epithelium apoptosis occurs in a time-dependent fashion and provides strong evidence that the actions of progesterone in that tissue are not only to stimulate cell proliferation and differentiation, but also to suppress apoptosis.
  • Apoptosis,
  • progesterone,
  • RU486
Citation Information
Rocco J. Rotello, Rita C. Lieberman, Ronald B. Lepoff and Lazaro E. Gerschenson. "Characterization of Uterine Epithelium Apoptotic Cell Death Kinetics and Regulation by Progesterone and RU 486" The American Journal of Pathology Vol. 140 Iss. 2 (1992) p. 449 - 456
Available at: