Journal Article

Protective effect of pregnancy for development of uterine leiomyoma

Cheryl Lyn Walker, Kimberley Cesen-Cummings, Christopher Houle, Donna Baird, J.Carl Barrett and Barbara Davis

in Carcinogenesis

Volume 22, issue 12, pages 2049-2052
Published in print December 2001 | ISSN: 0143-3334
Published online December 2001 | e-ISSN: 1460-2180 | DOI:
Protective effect of pregnancy for development of uterine leiomyoma

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Many factors that can modulate the risk of developing uterine leiomyoma have been identified, including parity. Epidemiological data on decreased risk of developing this disease has been subject to different interpretations regarding whether pregnancy per se is protective or, as leiomyomas are a major cause of infertility, women that develop these tumors are less fertile and thus have lower pregnancy rates. We have utilized an animal model genetically predisposed to uterine leiomyoma to investigate the potential protective effect of pregnancy on the risk of developing this disease. Female Eker rats that carry a mutation in the tuberous sclerosis 2 (Tsc-2) tumor suppressor gene develop uterine leiomyoma with a frequency of 65% when nulliparous. These animals were bred with intact or vasectomized males and tumor incidence determined after a single pregnancy (to confirm fertility) or multiple pregnancies over the lifetime of the animals. Females with multiple litters displayed a dramatic shift in tumor incidence and presentation. Tumor incidence decreased from 71% in single litter females to 10% in females that had multiple litters (average: five litters/animal). Interestingly, females bred with vasectomized males also exhibited a reduced tumor incidence of 41%, suggesting that the hormonal changes associated with early stages of pregnancy that occur in pseudopregnant females may have contributed to the protective effect of pregnancy.

Journal Article.  3175 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Clinical Cytogenetics and Molecular Genetics

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