Expression of vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF), hypoxia inducible factor-1alpha (HIF-1alpha), and microvessel density in endometrial tissue in women with adenomyosis

Gaia Goteri, Guendalina Lucarini, Nina Montik, Antonio Zizzi, Daniela Stramazzotti, Guidalberto Fabris, Andrea Luigi Tranquilli, Andrea Ciavattini
International Journal of Gynecological Pathology 2009, 28 (2): 157-63
Adenomyosis is a disease with a mysterious pathogenesis, defined by an abnormal displacement of the eutopic endometrium deeply and haphazardly inside the myometrium. Angiogenesis has been indicated to play an important role and our aim was to investigate whether vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) and hypoxia-inducible factor-1alpha (HIF-1alpha) expression and microvessel density (MVD) were different in women with and without adenomyosis. Immunohistochemistry was performed in endometrial tissues in 23 patients who underwent radical hysterectomy for adenomyosis (14) and for ovarian cysts and fibroids (9) at an Academic Hospital. Compared to women without the disease, VEGF expression was increased in endometrium with a normal location in patients with adenomyosis, although not associated to a significant increase of HIF-1alpha and MVD. Moreover, the endometrium with an abnormal location in patients with adenomyosis showed an increased VEGF and HIF-1alpha expression, particularly in the epithelial cells, associated to an increase of MVD, compared with the endometrium in a normal location in the same group of patients. Our present findings suggest that VEGF-mediated angiogenesis might be associated with the development of adenomyosis. In the ectopic foci the abnormal location might contribute to increased HIF-1a expression, stimulation of VEGF production, and increased vessel formation. In endometrium with a normal location, instead, where VEGF increased expression seems not to be correlated with HIF-1alpha increased expression nor with an increased MVD, other mechanisms might be reasonably postulated. Additional studies are required to explore new targeted and more effective treatment modalities.

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