Research Article| Volume 164, ISSUE 1-2, P43-50, October 28, 2011

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Estrogen up-regulation of semaphorin 3F correlates with sympathetic denervation of the rat uterus


      Current evidence indicates that rises in systemic levels of estrogen create in the uterus an inhibitory environment for sympathetic nerves. However, molecular insights of these changes are far from complete. We evaluated if semaphorin 3F mRNA, a sympathetic nerve repellent, was produced by the rat uterus and if its expression was modulated by estrogen. We also analyzed whether uterine nerves express the semaphorin 3F binding receptor, neuropilin-2. Uterine levels of semaphorin 3F mRNA were measured using real time reverse transcriptase–polymerase chain reaction in prepubertal rat controls and following chronic estrogen treatment. Localization of semaphorin 3F transcripts was determined by in situ hybridization and the expression of neuropilin-2 was assessed by immunohistochemistry. These studies showed that: (1) chronic estrogen treatment led to a 5-fold induction of semaphorin 3F mRNA in the immature uterus; (2) estrogen provoked a tissue-specific induction of semaphorin 3F which was particularly localized in the connective tissue that borders muscle bundles and surrounds intrauterine blood vessels; (3) two major cell-types were recognized in the areas where transcripts were concentrated, fibroblast-like cells and infiltrating eosinophil leukocytes; and (4) some delicate nerve terminal profiles present in the estrogenized uterus were immunoreactive for neuropilin-2. Temporal and spatial expression patterns of semaphorin 3F/neuropilin-2 are consistent with a possible role of this guidance cue in the remodeling of uterine sympathetic innervation by estrogen. Though correlative in its nature, these data support a model whereby semaphorin 3F, in combination with other inhibitory molecules, converts the estrogenized myometrium to an inhospitable environment for sympathetic nerves.


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