Tissue inhibitor of metalloproteinase-1 (TIMP-1) is a multifunctional protein expressed in the uterus of essentially all species, yet the function of this protein is uncertain. To assess the role of TIMP-1 in the uterine events that occur during the murine estrous cycle, mature female TIMP-1 wild-type and null mice were monitored for reproductive cyclicity. Mice were sacrificed in each stage of the estrous cycle, and peripheral blood was collected and assayed for serum estradiol and progesterone content by RIA. Uterine morphology and TIMP-1, TIMP-2, TIMP-3, and TIMP-4 mRNA expression were also examined between genotypes in each stage of the estrous cycle. Disruption of the TIMP-1 gene product was associated with an altered reproductive cycle characterized by a significant decrease in the length of the estrus period in the null mice. Also during the period of estrus, null mice expressed significantly lower levels of uterine TIMP-3 mRNA expression, altered uterine morphology, significantly higher serum estradiol levels, and significantly lower serum progesterone levels compared to their wild-type counterparts. It is concluded from this study that TIMP-1 has a multifaceted role in regulating the murine reproductive cycle, and this control appears to be at the level of both the uterus and the ovary.
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