Rats have an average estrous cycle of 4-5 days. There are four phases (proestrus, estrus, metesterus, and diestrus) in the estrous cycle in rodents. Histologic staging of the rodent estrous cycle is challenging and requires expertise. Thus, utilizing additional parameters such as cellular proliferation of the various components of the uterine microanatomy may assist with this process. Having an alternative method by which a pathologist can correctly identify the stages of the rodent estrous cycle would be valuable to the assessment and interpretation of safety studies for new drug candidates. This study was performed to investigate the microanatomic location of the uterine proliferative activity by image analysis and immunohistochemistry using Ki-67, a well-established marker of proliferating cells. Each stage of the rodent estrous cycle exhibited a different pattern of cellular proliferation. During proestrus, the lowest degree of cellular proliferation occurred in the glandular epithelial cells and the highest occurred in the myometrial cells. In estrus, lower levels of cellular proliferation were seen in the luminal and glandular epithelial cells, while a higher rate of proliferation occurred in myometrial cells followed by the stromal cells. At the metestrus stage, the highest cellular proliferation occurred in stromal and myometrial cells, while lesser proliferation was observed in luminal and glandular epithelial cells. This work demonstrates that in the rodent uterus there are cyclic changes in cellular proliferation in specific microanatomic uterine locations which can aid in the staging of the estrous cycle.
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- Estous cycle
- Image analysis