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Perinatal exposure to a synthetic estrogen, diethylstilbestrol (DES), causes cervicovaginal adenosis and permanent hyperplastic cornified vaginal epithelium with keratinization in mice. To investigate the mechanisms of the induction of vaginal abnormalities by DES, we have focused on activin A signaling. We have found that the βA-subunit mRNA is mainly expressed in the neonatal vaginal stroma, whereas activin A receptor type IB is localized in the neonatal vaginal epithelium. SMAD2, the intracellular signaling protein, is phosphorylated in the neonatal vagina. Cell proliferation in the vaginal epithelium grown in vitro is reduced by DES treatment or by activin signaling suppression through inhibin treatment. Thus, activin A (a homodimer of the βA-subunit) in the stroma stimulates epithelial cell proliferation in the neonatal vagina. DES treatment decreases the expression of the βA-subunit and activin receptor IIB but increases the expression of the βB-subunit and inhibin receptor. Neonatal DES treatment inhibits the phosphorylation of SMAD2 in the vaginal epithelium, indicating the inhibition of activin A signaling in the vaginal epithelium by neonatal DES treatment. Treatment with DES or inhibin, a native antagonist of activin, induces adenosis-like structures and keratinization in the vagina grown in vitro. These data suggest that the suppression of activin A signaling by DES is involved in the induction of cervicovaginal adenosis and keratinization in the neonatal mouse vaginal epithelium.
Graduate School of Nanobioscience, Yokohama City University, 22-2 Seto, Kanazawa-ku, Yokohama, 236-0027, Japan.
This article was published in the following journal.
Name: Cell and tissue research
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