BEIJING, June 4 (Xinhua) -- An international study has identified stem cells and a gene that is responsible for menstruation.
The uterus sheds and regenerates the tissue lining its walls, preparing for a pregnancy or the next cycle. Researchers from Yale University in the United States, Central South University in China and other research institutions studied the related mechanism in mice.
The researchers first stimulated menstruation in mice with hormones and then examined uterus tissue at different stages of the mice's reproductive cycle. Finally, the researchers quantify the cells found inside the inner lining of the uterus, known as the epithelium.
Reporting in the journal Cell Reports, the researchers said they found a type of stem cells named CD34+KLF+ that can migrate from inside the uterus lining to differentiate into epithelial cells. Epithelial cells replace tissue shedding during menstruation.
Meanwhile, they also found a gene regulating the process. If the expression of the gene is abnormally high, it could cause infertility.
If the gene is knocked out and its function is lost, the mice will be at higher risk for developing endometrial cancer, a type of cancer that begins in the uterus.
The researchers said that the gene could be a promising target for developing new drugs.