Key words: Retinoids
Springer Online Journal Archives 1860-2000
Abstract. In rodents, the vaginal epithelium shows cyclic changes with an alternating pattern of keratinization under estrogen control and mucification under progesterone control. Retinoids are powerful regulators of cell differentiation, an excess of retinoids suppressing the keratinizing differentiation of keratinocytes. Here, we have examined the vaginal epithelium during the estrous cycle and compare the effects of retinoids on both types of hormonally induced differentiation, i.e. keratinization and mucification. All-trans retinoic acid was administred either by daily injections during the estrous cycle or by a single injection before the estrogen rise; these two protocols gave similar results. Retinoic acid suppressed estrogen-induced vaginal keratinization and cytokeratin K10 expression (a biochemical marker of terminal differentiation). Progesterone-induced mucification was not impaired; however, retinoic acid impeded mucous cell desquamation, suggesting an effect of retinoic acid on cell adhesiveness. Retinoic acid induced the appearance of apoptotic-like cells, as revealed by immunocytochemical staining of DNA fragmentation.
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