Morphology of the rat uterus after long-term treatment with progesterone antagonists

E. Rumpe, H. Michna, W. Kühne

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21 Scopus citations


The effects of long-term treatment with the progesterone anatagonists ZK 98.299 and ZK 112. 993 on the uterus of intact mature rats were investigated with light and electron microscopy. After 3–4 weeks treatment with both progesterone antagonists, the uterine luminal epithelium showed ongoing mitotic activity, increased apoptosis and invasion by granulocytes. Many uteri showed metaplastic areas with stratified squamous epithelium. Basically, the same changes occurred, but to a lesser extent, in the glandular epithelium. At the ultrastructural level, the epithelial cells displayed the morphological features of a certain degree of differentation. The dissociation of collagen fibres, infiltration by granulocytes and dilatation of small vessels were observed in the subepithelial connective tissue. The myometrium increased in thickness and electron microscopic examination revealed hypertrophic myocytes with a well developed granular endoplasmic reticulum. Most of the morphological reactions may be regarded as due to the direct inhibitory action of progesterone antagonists at the level of the different uterine tissues and the resulting unopposed action of estrogen. The metaplastic changes and the suppression of the anti-proliferative action of progesterone on uterine epithelial cells should be taken into account when treating women in their reproductive years with these drugs for long periods of time, as may be neccessary for the endocrine treatment of mammary cancer and endometriosis.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)141-149
Number of pages9
JournalAnnals of Anatomy
Issue number2
StatePublished - 1993
Externally publishedYes


  • Morphology
  • Progesterone antagonists
  • Rat uterus


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