The presence of gonadotropin receptors in nonpregnant human uterus, human placenta, fetal membranes, and decidua.

Research paper by E E Reshef, Z M ZM Lei, C V CV Rao, D D DD Pridham, N N Chegini, J L JL Luborsky

Indexed on: 01 Feb '90Published on: 01 Feb '90Published in: The Journal of clinical endocrinology and metabolism


The possible presence of gonadotropin receptors in nonpregnant human uterus and human fetoplacental unit was investigated by light microscope immunocytochemistry using a monoclonal antibody to rat luteal hCG/LH receptors. The receptor antibody cross-reacted with human and bovine hCG/LH receptors and appears to be directed against the receptor rather than other proteins, including HLA class I antigens. Uterus and fetoplacental unit contained receptor antibody-binding sites, which indicates the presence of hCG/LH receptors. In the endometrium these receptors were present in glandular and luminal epithelial cells as well as in stromal cells. In the myometrium the receptors were detected in circular and elongated myometrial smooth muscle and vascular smooth muscle. Comparison of immunostaining intensities, which indicates the presence of different amounts of receptors, revealed that luminal and glandular epithelial cells contained more receptors than stromal cells. These cells, in turn, contained more receptors than myometrial and vascular smooth muscle. All cells in secretory phase uterine specimens contained more receptors than corresponding cells from the proliferative phase of the cycle. Midpregnancy placenta, amniotic epithelium, chorionic cytotrophoblasts, and decidual cells contained hCG/LH receptors. At term pregnancy, while receptors in fetal membranes and decidua continue to be detected, placental tissues did not show any detectable receptors unless the tissues were pretreated with neuraminidase. This indicated that term pregnancy placenta contain hCG/LH receptors masked by sialic acid residues. Comparison of immunostaining intensities suggested that syncytiotrophoblasts contained more receptors than cytotrophoblasts at midpregnancy; mesenchymal cells or blood vessels contained no detectable receptors. There were more receptors in decidua than in fetal membranes at mid- and term pregnancy. While the amniotic epithelial receptors decreased, the receptors in chorionic cytotrophoblasts and decidual cells increased from mid- to term pregnancy. In summary, hCG/LH receptors were demonstrated in the nonpregnant human uterus, human placenta, fetal membranes, and decidua. This indicates that hCG/LH may directly regulate functions of these tissues by endocrine, autocrine, or paracrine mechanisms.