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Hoffmann, R. A wiki for the life sciences where authorship matters. Nature Genetics (2008)

Ovariectomy increases squamous metaplasia of the uterine horns and survival of SENCAR mice fed a vitamin A-deficient diet.

BACKGROUND: Retinoic acid is necessary for the growth and differentiation of organisms and exerts its molecular actions by binding to specific nuclear receptors that belong to the thyroid-steroid hormone receptor superfamily. Steroids and retinoids control the differentiation of the female reproductive epithelia: estrogen maintains the squamous differentiation of vaginal and ectocervical epithelia, whereas retinoic acid maintains the simple columnar endocervical and uterine epithelia. These lining epithelia transform into a squamous metaplastic phenotype in vitamin A-deficient animals. Furthermore, mortality due to vitamin A deficiency is usually attributed to infection resulting in part from dysfunction of the protective epithelia. OBJECTIVE: Our objective was to test the hypothesis that estrogen depletion might change the squamous metaplastic response to vitamin A deficiency and affect animal survival. DESIGN: We used female SENCAR mice maintained on a purified vitamin A-deficient diet containing either 0 or 3 microg retinoic acid/g diet. Mice were either ovariectomized or intact. Squamous cells arising in the normally simple columnar epithelium of the endocervix and uterine cavity were monitored by keratin 5 expression with immunohistochemistry. RESULTS: Ovariectomy did not change the time to onset of vitamin A deficiency. It increased the number of squamous metaplastic cells and prolonged survival in mice consuming a vitamin A-deficient diet by as much as 40%. CONCLUSIONS: Factors other than epithelial differentiation per se control survival outcome of vitamin A-deficient mice. The results also show a significant increase in longevity of vitamin A- deficient mice when ovariectomized.[1]


  1. Ovariectomy increases squamous metaplasia of the uterine horns and survival of SENCAR mice fed a vitamin A-deficient diet. Ponnamperuma, R.M., Kirchhof, S.M., Trifiletti, L., De Luca, L.M. Am. J. Clin. Nutr. (1999) [Pubmed]
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