The present studies detail the cytopathological alterations in uterine epithelial, basal lamina, and stromal endometrial subregions, and associated endocrine parameters that occur during the progressive exacerbation of the diabetes syndrome in this species of mouse. These alterations result in a cellular lipoatrophic condition that compromises uterine tissue integrity and promotes reproductive involution. Uterine tissue samples were obtained from litter-matched control (+/?) and diabetic (db/db) C57BL/KsJ mice at four designated stages of the progressive expression of the diabetes mutation. In db/db mice between the ages of 4 and 12 weeks, the uterine epithelial cellular architecture exhibited progressive deterioration, characterized by cytoplasmic lipid imbibition (accumulation), organelle disintegration, apical membrane ciliary regression, and peristromal lamina separation from basal membrane surfaces, as compared with control indexes. The cytoplasmic volume occupied by lipid inclusions dominated the epithelial cells in diabetic mice, presenting dense basal pole lipid vacuoles, with perinuclear-intracytoplasmic migration of the inclusions promoting an apical cytoplasmic lipid condensation of increasing volume 8–12 weeks after mutation expression. These cytoplasmic lipid accumulations occurred under altered metabolic and endocrine conditions characterized by hyperglycemic, hyperinsulinemic, hypertriglyceridemic, and enhanced noradrenergic indexes, which were exacerbated between 4- and 12-week stages. These structural changes were accompanied by enhanced adrenergic counterregulatory metabolic responses as well as elevated lipoprotein and triacylglycerol lipase activities. These data indicate that diabetes-associated uterine involution is characterized by a progressive cellular and peristromal lipoatrophy of epithelial cell cytology and metabolic parameters, promoting stromal separation and ultimate endometrial involution.
Address correspondence and reprint requests to Dr. David R. Garris, Cell Biology and Biophysics, School of Biological Sciences, University of Missouri-Kansas City, 5007 Rockhill Rd., Kansas City, MO 64110-2499. E-mail:.
Received for publication 5 August 2002 and accepted in revised form 4 October 2002.
FFA, free fatty acid; HPLC, high-performance liquid chromatography; NE, norepinephrine; TEM examination, transmission electron microscopic examination.