A case of mistaken identity: bone marrow-derived immune cells in the uterus

Lead researcher

Dr James Deane

Main finding

Bone marrow stem cells are best known for their ability to produce immune cells, but studies from a number of independent laboratories have reported that they can also give rise to endometrium (the lining of the uterus). In contrast to these previous studies, our extensive examination of two mouse models found no evidence that bone marrow gives rise to endometrium. We found that certain types of bone marrow-derived immune cells in the endometrium could easily be mistaken for non-immune endometrial cell types. We argue that previous reports of bone marrow-derived endometrial cells are due to suboptimal detection immune cell markers in the endometrium.


The Ritchie Centre

Research group

Endometrial Stem Cell Biology Research Group


Ms Yih Rue Ong
Dr Fiona L Cousins
Dr Xiaoqing Yang,
Mr Ahmed Aedh A Al Mushafi
Dr David T Breault
Prof Caroline E Gargett
Dr James A Deane

Journal and article title

Most surprising

Careful examination of the endometrium reveals many more immune cells than many previous studies of bone marrow-derived endometrial cells have reported. It was this that convinced us previous studies were overlooking something.

Future implications

The idea that bone marrow can regenerate endometrium has prompted the clinical use of bone marrow stem cells to treat female infertility. It is also shaping the development of new treatments for diseases of the endometrium, particularly endometriosis. Our research will prompt a reassessment of therapies that are based on the premise that bone marrow is a source of endometrial cells. It will refocus attention on the roles bone marrow-derived immune cells in the endometrium.

Disease/health impact

Female infertility and endometriosis

Other points of interest

First author Yih Rue Ong did a great job setting up this study during her Honours year and while working as a research assistant. We are really pleased that she will be starting a PhD with the Endometrial Stem Cell Biology Group in 2018.