The ability of endometrial stromal cells from nonsensitized rat uteri to undergo decidualization in vitro was investigated. Cells were obtained by enzymatic dispersion from uteri of ovariectomized, steroid-treated rats at the equivalent of day 4, 5 or 6 of pseudopregnancy, or on day 5 from rats treated with 0, 0.3 or 1.0 μg oestradiol (low, intermediate or high doses of oestradiol, respectively) on day 4, and cultured for 24, 48 or 72 h. Decidualization in vivo, as assessed by uterine mass 5 days after the unilateral intrauterine injection of 100 μl sesame oil, was maximal for rats receiving the deciduogenic stimulus on day 5 and treated with the intermediate dose of oestradiol. Under control conditions in vitro, alkaline phosphatase (ALP) activity, the increase in ALP activity with time, and prostaglandin E2 (PGE2) accumulation in the medium were greatest for cells from maximally sensitized uteri. Indomethacin, an inhibitor of PG synthesis, reduced PGE2 accumulation to barely detectable amounts, and decreased ALP activity, especially in cells from maximally sensitized uteri, indicating that endogenous PG production contributed to the increase in ALP activity in these cells. The addition of PGE2 with indomethacin increased ALP activities. However, ALP activities were lower for cells derived from nonsensitized uteri when compared with cells from maximally sensitized uteri. These results suggest that endometrial stromal cells from nonsensitized uteri have a reduced capacity to undergo decidualization in vitro, and that this reduced capacity is not explained by differences in PGE2 production.
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