Hypoxia-inhibited dual-specificity phosphatase-2 expression in endometriotic cells regulates cyclooxygenase-2 expression

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Endometriosis is one of the most common gynaecological diseases that significantly reduces the life qualify of affected women and their families. Aberrant expression of cyclooxygenase-2 (COX-2), and thus over-production of prostaglandin E 2 (PGE 2) has been shown to play critical roles in the development of this disease. However, the mechanism responsible for COX-2 over-expression remains obscure. Here, we provide evidence for what we believe is a novel mechanism in regulating COX-2 expression in endometriotic stromal cells. Dual-specificity phosphatase-2 (DUSP2), a nuclear phosphatase that inactivates mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK), is markedly down-regulated in stromal cells of ectopic endometriotic tissues, which results in prolonged activation of extracellular signal-regulated kinase (ERK) and p38 MAPK and increased COX-2 expression. Expression of DUSP2 is inhibited by hypoxia inducible factor-1α (HIF-1α) at the transcriptional level. Treatment of normal endometrial stromal cells with hypoxia, or chemicals that cause HIF-1α accumulation, results in DUSP2 down-regulation, prolonged ERK phosphorylation and COX-2 over-expression. In contrast, forced expression of DUSP2 under hypoxia abolishes HIF-1α-induced ERK phosphorylation and COX-2 expression. Furthermore, suppression of DUSP2 by HIF-1α in eutopic endometrial stromal cells increases sensitivity of cox-2 gene to interleukin-1β stimulation, a phenomenon resembling endometriotic stromal cell characteristics. Taken together, these data suggest that DUSP2 is an important molecule in endometrial physiology and that hypoxia-inhibited DUSP2 expression is a critical factor for the development of endometriosis.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)390-400
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Pathology
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2011 Nov

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Pathology and Forensic Medicine

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