Differential response to hypoxia in leiomyoma and myometrial cells

Mariko Miyashita-Ishiwata, Malak El Sabeh, Lauren D. Reschke, Sadia Afrin, Mostafa A. Borahay

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Aims: Recent evidence suggests that repetitive hypoxia occurs during menstrual cycles due to vasoconstriction and myometrial contraction. It is unknown if hypoxia contributes to the development of uterine leiomyoma, the most common tumor of the female reproductive system. This study aims to characterize the response to hypoxia in leiomyoma and myometrial cells; and determine if an aberrant leiomyoma response to hypoxia may contribute to leiomyomatogenesis. Main methods: Primary and immortalized leiomyoma and myometrial cells were cultured under normoxic and hypoxic conditions. Expression levels of vascular endothelial growth factor-A (VEGF-A), adrenomedullin (ADM), endothelin-1 (ET-1), and hypoxia-inducible factor-1 alpha (HIF-1α) were measured by qRT-PCR, western blotting and ELISA. Cell proliferation was assessed using MTT assay and proliferating-cell-nuclear-antigen (PCNA) expression. KC7F2 (HIF-1α inhibitor) was used to examine the regulating mechanisms. Key findings: As expected, hypoxia induced HIF-1α expression in both leiomyoma and myometrial cells. However, hypoxia induced VEGF-A, ET-1 and ADM expression and VEGF-A secretion into the culture media in leiomyoma but not myometrial cells. MTT assay and PCNA expression showed that hypoxia induces proliferation in leiomyoma, but not myometrial cells. HIF-1α inhibitor abrogated the hypoxia-induced VEGF-A, ET-1, ADM, and PCNA expression in leiomyoma cells. Significance: This study suggests an aberrant leiomyoma cellular response to hypoxia compared to myometrium. This differential response to menstruation-related repetitive hypoxia episodes may lead to selective proliferation of hypoxia-adaptive leiomyoma cells and contribute to leiomyoma growth. Thus, in addition to adding to our understanding of leiomyoma pathobiology, the study proposes angiogenic factors as a potential leiomyoma therapeutic target.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number120238
JournalLife Sciences
StatePublished - Feb 1 2022


  • Angiogenesis
  • HIF-1α
  • Hypoxia
  • Leiomyoma
  • VEGF

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Pharmacology, Toxicology and Pharmaceutics
  • General Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology


Dive into the research topics of 'Differential response to hypoxia in leiomyoma and myometrial cells'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this