Advanced secretory changes in the proliferative human endometrial epithelium following clomiphene citrate treatment

A. Birkenfeld, K. Beier-Hellwig, D. Navot

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In an effort to characterize the effect of clomiphene citrate (CC) on the human endometrium, we took biopsy specimens of the endometrium 24 to 48 hours after CC treatment (100 to 250 mg/day for 5 consecutive days). Nineteen biopsy specimens were taken from 19 patients. Fifteen of the patients suffered from anovulatory infertility associated with oligomenorrhea or normal cycle length. The other four patients were amenorrheic, two in association with hypogonadotropic hypogonadism and two with hypergonadotropic hypogonadism. The histopathology of all samples was evaluated with the use of light microscopy, including periodic acid-Schiff (PAS) and PAS-diastase staining for glycogen demonstration. All samples were also examined with the use of scanning electron microscopy (SEM). Serum levels of estradiol (E2), progesterone (P), luteinizing hormone, and follicle-stimulating hormone were determined on the day of biopsy. In 10 of the 19 biopsy specimens, local or diffuse signs of early secretory events were demonstrated by the presence of subnuclear vacuolization and glycogen in the glandular epithelial cells. SEM corroborated these findings of advanced secretory changes by demonstrating apical protrusions at luminal epithelial cells and secretory products within the glands' openings. The E2 levels ranged between 110 and 1500 pg/ml (mean, 371 pg/ml) and P levels were either undetectable or < 1.1 ng/ml. The two patients with hypogonadotropic hypogonadism both exhibited the same phenomena; those with primary ovarian failure had atrophic endometrium even after high-dose CC treatment. This observation, together with the low P levels detected, indicating the lack of luteinization, suggests a possible direct effect of CC on the endometrium. A certain stage of synchronization is needed between the developing embryo and the uterine environment for the establishment of pregnancy. The premature epithelial secretory pattern observed here in the follicular phase may reflect, however, a functional desynchronization, which may have its implication during the periimplantation period.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)462-468
Number of pages7
JournalFertility and Sterility
Issue number4
StatePublished - 1986
Externally publishedYes


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