Glucosamine inhibits decidualization of human endometrial stromal cells and decreases litter sizes in mice

Jui He Tsai, Maureen Schulte, Kathleen O'Neill, Maggie M.Y. Chi, Antonina I. Frolova, Kelle H. Moley

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18 Scopus citations


Embryo implantation in the uterus depends on decidualization of the endometrial stromal cells (ESCs), and glucose utilization via the pentose phosphate pathway is critical in this process. We hypothesized that the amino sugar glucosamine may block the pentose phosphate pathway via inhibition of the rate-limiting enzyme glucose-6-phosphate dehydrogenase in ESCs and therefore impair decidualization and embryo implantation, thus preventing pregnancy. Both human primary and immortalized ESCs were decidualized in vitro in the presence of 0, 2.5, or 5 mM glucosamine for 9 days. Viability assays demonstrated that glucosamine was well tolerated by human ESCs. Exposure of human ESCs to glucosamine resulted in significant decreases in the activity and expression of glucose-6-phosphate dehydrogenase and in the mRNA expression of the decidual markers prolactin, somatostatin, interleukin-15, and left-right determination factor 2. In mouse ESCs, expression of the decidual marker Prp decreased upon addition of glucosamine. In comparison with control mice, glucosamine-treated mice showed weak artificial deciduoma formation along the stimulated uterine horn. In a complementary in vivo experiment, a 60- day-release glucosamine (15, 150, or 1500 lg) or placebo pellet was implanted in a single uterine horn of mice. Mice with a glucosamine pellet delivered fewer live pups per litter than those with a control pellet, and pup number returned to normal after the end of the pellet-active period. In conclusion, glucosamine is a nonhormonal inhibitor of decidualization of both human and mouse ESCs and of pregnancy in mice. Our data indicate the potential for development of glucosamine as a novel, reversible, nonhormonal contraceptive.

Original languageEnglish
Article number16
JournalBiology of reproduction
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2013


  • Decidualization
  • Glucosamine
  • Human endometrial stromal cells
  • Pentose phosphate pathway


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