BackgroundThe endometrium is a heterogeneous tissue composed of luminal epithelial (LE), glandular epithelial (GE), and stromal cells (ST), experiencing progesterone regulated dynamic changes during the estrous cycle. In the cow, this regulation at the transcriptomic level was only evaluated in the whole tissue. This study describes specific gene expression in the three types of cells isolated from endometrial biopsies following laser capture microdissection and the transcriptome changes induced by progesterone in GE and ST cells.ResultsEndometrial LE, GE, and ST cells show specific transcriptomic profiles. Most of the differentially expressed genes (DEGs) in response to progesterone are cell type-specific (96%). Genes involved in cell cycle and nuclear division are under-expressed in the presence of progesterone in GE, highlighting the anti-proliferative action of progesterone in epithelial cells. Elevated progesterone concentrations are also associated with the under-expression of estrogen receptor 1 (ESR1) in GE and oxytocin receptor (OXTR) in GE and ST cells. In ST cells, transcription factors such as SOX17 and FOXA2, known to regulate uterine epithelial-stromal cross-talk conveying to endometrial receptivity, are over-expressed under progesterone influence.ConclusionsThe results from this study show that progesterone regulates endometrial function in a cell type-specific way, which is independent of the expression of its main receptor PGR. These novel insights into uterine physiology present the cell compartment as the physiological unit rather than the whole tissue.