Researchers have identified a key step in the establishment of a pregnancy. The discovery may shed light on fertility disorders and diseases of the uterus, including endometrial cancer. At the start of each menstrual cycle, levels of the hormone estrogen begin to rise, which causes the uterine lining to grow and thicken. When the ovary releases an egg, levels of another hormone, progesterone, increase. Higher progesterone levels put the brakes on the estrogen-driven growth of the uterine lining, allowing the lining to mature and egg implantation to take place. Because of this function, progesterone is sometimes given to women to treat infertility and prevent premature birth. However, it carries some unpleasant side effects. A greater understanding of how progesterone works could lead to better treatments. It could also shed light on disorders such as endometrial cancer and endometriosis, which is marked by uncontrolled growth of the uterine lining. To clarify how progesterone stops the growth of the uterine lining, the study's first author, Dr. Quanxi Li of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, led a group of researchers from several institutions. Their findings were published in the February 28, 2011, issue of Science. The team focused on the role of a protein called Hand2 in halting the growth of the uterine lining. They had previously found that blocking the progesterone receptor decreased Hand2 expression in uterine cells, indicating a link between Hand2 and progesterone.In their new study, the team genetically engineered mice to lack Hand2 in the uterus, and then gave them progesterone. They then stimulated uterine lining growth with estrogen. In normal mice, progesterone prevents the uterine lining from growing. In the mice without Hand2, however, the lining grew in spite of the progesterone treatment. The scientists found that uterine cells beneath the lining express Hand2 during egg implantation. Further experiments revealed that estrogen stimulates the production of molecules called growth factors, which cause the uterine lining to grow. High levels of Hand2, brought on by progesterone, stop the production of these growth factors. Therefore, the uterine lining stops growing, allowing egg implantation. The discovery of Hand2's role in halting growth of the uterine lining may spur development of treatments for diseases like endometriosis and endometrial cancer. "This information helps us understand how the interplay of hormones prepares the uterus to host and support the embryo as it grows," says Dr. Milan Bagchi, a senior author of the study. "Our next priority will be to examine whether Hand2 plays a critical role in the human uterus as well." Related Links: Pregnancy Infertility Endometriosis Source:  National Institutes of Health

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This is a very important discovery that scientists may know more details about how the pregnancy occurs and women who may have more chances to get pregnant is the kind of good news for them.

The human body is amazing. me and my wife are expecting our first child and we love reading great articles like this one.

Great news, this shed light and hope to all of us who had lived with the uncertainty of having a fertility disorder.

There's an interesting update on the NIH website:http://www.nih.gov/news/health/feb2011/nichd-18.htm

This research seems to be on the road to helping more women become pregnant and carry the baby for its full term. Our bodies and science are truly and continuously wonderous things.

It is really great the advance made in researching complications with pregnancy. My wife had some issues in the past and as a result of knowing of the complications and with weekly visits/medical attention, we were able to have our first child.

The body is a never ending wonderland. It's amazing to me sometimes all of the processes that the body goes through on a daily basis. Pregnancy or trying to get pregnant, of course, adds to the already hundreds of things your body is doing already on a natural basis!

This is a very interesting finding. Many women tend to be \estrogen dominant\, which could also translate into progesterone deficiencies. If this protein is part of the progesterone shut-off, as stated, this could be a valuable bit of data to help women with infertility, fertility challenges, or endometriosis contributing to fertility issues. Thanks for this information. I'll be passing it on to my patients.

My progesterone was low early in my pregnancy and I had to take supplements. The pregnancy before that ended in m/c. I also had gastric bypass years ago and have to work hard to get enough protein in my daily diet - I had a pregnancy with no problems before GBS and always wondered if they were connected.

The human body is an amazing wonder and it just shows that sometimes just a small increase in something can have effects unkown and beyond control. Research such as this is invaluable.

Very important research, if this can go on to help in the discovery of treatments for endometriosis and endometrial cancer,it will be a great breakthrough

This is truly a great discovery. Definitely it could help women a lot specially in treating diseases like cancer.

I'm all for the advancment of science. But, what bothers me is every time a new study comes out we get excited. Then, another study comes out shortly after and invalidates the previous one. Makes you wonder if one should bother keeping up.

If this protein is part of the progesterone shut-off, as stated, this could be a valuable bit of data to help women with infertility, fertility challenges, or endometriosis contributing to fertility issues.

Really good post...I agree that protein can help a mother to protect her baby growing healthy. Thanks for sharing.

I had problems conceiving for a few years and my menstral cyle was irregular. My doctor at the time told me i had low progesterone levels. I now have 2 beautiful children. I think your article will shed light on on those who may be experiencing infertility,

Me and my wife are expecting our second son and we are happy to read some good news,like this article. But this article did not shocked me. I'm a bodybuilder and I know that protein is very important for humans,it grow muscles and all our body,including brains.

t takes a great effort for a blogger to make the readers appreciate the blog. Some like you have the natural tendency to keep the pace up and make people wait for your next blog. Keep up the great blogging practice and feed the readers with enough of your great blogging asset. Thanks

I wonder if women were to consume more protein as a part of preparing to be pregnant whether that would make a difference? It's interesting when I consider two year priors to getting pregnant I was vegan but all during pregnancy I craved and devoured meats and especially liver which I previously disliked.

It takes a great effort for a blogger to make the readers appreciate the blog. Some like you have the natural tendency to keep the pace up and make people wait for your next blog. Keep up the great blogging practice and feed the readers with enough of your great blogging asset.

Any specific type of protein? Could you use a complete vegetable based such as hemp? EDITOR'S NOTE: I have no information on hemp. Readers????

Great article, I like the fact that the findings of Hand2 will be researched and tested in humans too as it was with the mice. I also think protein is vital for soon to be mothers to take it in as it is also beneficial for the babies. Thanks

Been looking for blogs to get ideas for my new blog! Yours has a great simple design. -Susan

is it applicable to the ladies who are chain smokers? EDITOR'S NOTE: More research will likely look at this.

Fantastic article. Very interesting. I had no idea that certain proteins had such a dramatic effect on fertility and pregnancy. Once again we can tip our hats to science! Thanks again for posting information such as this. You can never learn too much in regards to bringing another life into this world. Well done!

Great Article. I hope more study in done on the protein Hand2 because of this post. It will be very interesting to see if Hand2 does play a critical role in the human uterus. I agree with Kelly..you can never learn too much in regards to bringing another life into this world. Thanks

Great reading and essential knowledge for everyone, not just those planning for a pregnancy. Lots I didn't know about here.

Great article. A friend of mine is pregnant and I just sent this to her, right on!

Very interesting. I had no idea that certain proteins had such a dramatic effect on fertility and pregnancy. Once again we can tip our hats to science! Thanks again for posting information such as this. You can never learn too much in regards to bringing another life into this world. Well done!

Protein is of the utmost importance to all of us! Pregnant women need to really focus on their nutrition during pregnancy so that they don't become deficient. I think that focusing on getting EFAs is crucial and getting protein from the proper source. Adding 2 scoops of whey protein to a smoothie is awesome. Thanks for this article!

If this protein is part of the progesterone shut-off, as stated, this could be a valuable bit of data to help women with infertility, fertility challenges, or endometriosis contributing to fertility issues. Thanks for this information. I’ll be passing it on to my patients.

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