The cystic fibrosis transmembrane conductance regulator (CFTR) is an apical membrane chloride/bicarbonate ion channel in epithelial cells. Mutations in CFTR cause cystic fibrosis, a disease characterized by thickened mucus secretions and is associated with subfertility and infertility. CFTR function has been well characterized in vitro and in vivo in airway and other epithelia studies. However, little is known about CFTR function in the cervix in health and its contribution to cyclic regulation of fertility from endocervical mucus changes. Contributing to this research gap is the lack of information on the effect of sex steroid hormones on CFTR expression in cervical epithelial cells across the menstrual cycle. Herein, we demonstrate the hormonal regulation of CFTR expression in endocervical cells both in vitro and in vivo, and that conditionally reprogrammed endocervical epithelial cells can be used to interrogate CFTR ion channel function. CFTR activity was demonstrated in vitro using electrophysiological methods and functionally inhibited by the CFTR-specific inhibitors inh-172 and GlyH-101. We also report that CFTR expression is increased by estradiol in the macaque cervix both in vitro and in vivo in Rhesus macaques treated with artificial menstrual cycles. Estrogen upregulation of CFTR is blocked in vivo by cotreatment with progesterone. Our findings provide the most comprehensive evidence to date that steroid hormones drive changes in CFTR expression. These data are integral to understanding the role of CFTR as a fertility regulator in the endocervix.
- cystic fibrosis transmembrane conductance regulator
- female reproductive tract
- primates using hormone receptors
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Reproductive Medicine