Effects of a gestational level of estradiol on cellular transition, migration, and inflammation in cervical epithelial and stromal cells

Ourlad Alzeus G. Tantengco, Lauren S. Richardson, Ramkumar Menon

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Scopus citations


Problem: Estrogen (E2) is one of the main steroid hormones associated with pregnancy and parturition. High levels of E2 increase uterine contractions, promote fetal membrane weakening, and induce degradation of the cervical extracellular matrix (ECM). Current evidence supports the role of E2 in epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition (EMT) and inflammation in different cell types; however, its effects on the cellular components of the cervix are still unknown. Method of study: In this study, we assessed the effects of gestational levels of E2 in: (a) the cellular transition of endocervical epithelial cells (EEC) and cervical stromal cells (CSC) in vitro using immunocytochemical staining and Western blot analyses for EMT markers (cytokeratin-18, E-cadherin, N-cadherin, SNAIL, and vimentin); (b) cell migration using in vitro scratch assays; (c) inflammatory cytokine (interleukin 1β and TNF-α) and MMP9 production under untreated and lipopolysaccharide (LPS)-treated conditions using immunoassays. Results: E2 treatment and co-treatment with LPS as a proxy for infection maintained the metastate of EEC (expression of both cytokeratin and vimentin) and the mesenchymal state of CSC. E2 delayed wound healing, which mimics the tissue remodeling process, in EEC and CSC. E2 led to persistently elevated levels of vimentin throughout the EEC wound healing process. E2 did not affect inflammatory cytokine production by EEC and CSC but increased MMP9 production by EEC. Conclusion: Collectively, these results show that third trimester levels of E2 may permit localized inflammation, increase MMP-9 production, and cause an EMT-mediated impairment of the remodeling process in the cervix in vitro. These data suggest a potential contribution of E2 in cervical ripening.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere13370
JournalAmerican Journal of Reproductive Immunology
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 2021


  • EMT
  • LPS
  • MET
  • cervical ripening
  • infection
  • inflammation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology and Allergy
  • Immunology
  • Reproductive Medicine
  • Obstetrics and Gynecology


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