Enhanced expression of TACE contributes to elevated levels of sVCAM-1 in endometriosis

K. Proestling, I. Yotova, S. Gamperl, C. Hauser, R. Wenzl, C. Schneeberger, L. Szabo, M. Mairhofer, H. Husslein, L. Kuessel

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STUDY QUESTION: Are increased sVCAM-1 and sICAM-1 levels associated with tumor necrosis factor-alpha-converting enzyme (TACE) activity in endometriosis? SUMMARY ANSWER: Here we provide the first functional evidence that induced TACE activity in human endometriotic epithelial cells is at least in part responsible for the enhanced release of sVCAM-1 from these cells. WHAT IS KNOWN ALREADY: We and others have shown that serum-soluble (s)VCAM-1 levels are significantly higher in women with endometriosis, compared to disease-free controls. Experimental evidence exists suggesting a role of sICAM-1 and sVCAM-1 in the pathogenesis of endometriosis. TACE was identified as the protease responsible for phorbol 12-myristate 13-acetate (PMA)-induced VCAM-1 release in murine endothelial cells. Additionally, it has recently been shown that TACE is upregulated in the endometrial luminal epithelium of the mid-secretory phase in infertile women. STUDY DESIGN, SIZE, DURATION: This study was conducted at the Tertiary Endometriosis Referral Center of the Medical University of Vienna. Samples from a total number of 97 women were collected between July 2013 and September 2014. PARTICIPANTS/MATERIALS, SETTING, METHODS: After complete surgical exploration of the abdominopelvic cavity, 49 women with histologically proven endometriosis and 48 endometriosis-free control women were enrolled. Each participating woman contributed only one sample of eutopic endometrium and normal peritoneum, and some of the women with endometriosis contributed samples of diverse types of endometriotic lesions (in total 52 ectopic samples). Among the 49 women with endometriosis, 36 matched samples of endometriotic lesions and corresponding eutopic endometrium were collected. In order to detect sVCAM-1 and TACE protein by ELISA, peritoneal fluid (PF) samples were collected from 44 cases and 32 controls during surgery. Expression of TACE mRNA was analyzed by qRT-PCR in 111 endometrium tissue samples (28 eutopic control samples, 33 eutopic samples from women with endometriosis, 50 ectopic samples from lesions) and 37 healthy peritoneum samples. Immunohistochemistry was performed in 123 tissue samples (39 eutopic control samples, 42 eutopic samples from women with endometriosis, 42 ectopic samples from lesions) and the relation between tissue TACE protein levels and sVCAM-1 secretion was examined. PMA-induced sVCAM-1 release, and TACE- and VCAM-1-transcripts or proteins were measured in an immortalized endometriotic epithelial cell line (11Z) pre-incubated either with TACE inhibitors or following TACE siRNA knockdown. MAIN RESULTS AND THE ROLE OF CHANCE: Here, we demonstrate that TACE protein is overexpressed in epithelium of tissue samples of both eutopic endometrium and ectopic lesions of women with endometriosis compared to disease-free controls (P < 0.001 both) and that the overexpression of the protein in the lesions is due to activation of TACE gene transcription (P < 0.001). Moreover, epithelial TACE protein was significantly higher in ectopic samples than in corresponding eutopic tissue of women with the disease (P < 0.001). High endometrial tissue TACE protein expression correlated with higher serum sVCAM-1 levels (P < 0.05) but not with sICAM-1 levels. Inhibition of TACE either by TACE inhibitors or by TACE siRNA knockdown resulted in decreased PMA-induced shedding of sVCAM-1 in vitro (P < 0.005 or P < 0.01, respectively), but the TACE inhibitors did not affect transcription of TACE or VCAM-1. Additionally, we observed an upregulation of TACE in proliferative endometrial epithelium of infertile (P < 0.005), compared to fertile women. TACE was increased in infertile women with endometriosis (P = 0.051) but not in infertile women without endometriosis. LIMITATIONS, REASONS FOR CAUTION: Albeit well characterized, our control population included women with other gynecologic diseases, which may have impacted the levels of sVCAM-1 and tissue TACE expression levels, e.g. benign ovarian cysts or uterine fibroids. Thus, the results of our analysis have to be interpreted carefully and in the context of the current experimental settings. WIDER IMPLICATIONS OF THE FINDINGS: The dysregulation of TACE substrate shedding represents a promising yet relatively unexplored area of endometriosis progression and could serve as a basis for the development of new treatments of the disease. STUDY FUNDING AND COMPETING INTEREST(S): This work was supported by the Ingrid Flick Foundation. The authors have no competing interests to declare.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)76-87
Number of pages12
JournalMolecular Human Reproduction
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 16 Nov 2018


  • ADAM17
  • endometriosis
  • ICAM1
  • infertility
  • TACE
  • VCAM1
  • ADAM17 Protein/genetics
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • Enzyme-Linked Immunosorbent Assay
  • Humans
  • Middle Aged
  • Immunoblotting
  • Young Adult
  • Vascular Cell Adhesion Molecule-1/genetics
  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Female
  • Endometriosis/genetics
  • In Vitro Techniques
  • Real-Time Polymerase Chain Reaction


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