Academic Appointments

Administrative Appointments

  • Director, Reproductive Endocrinology & Infertility (REI) Laboratory, Stanford University Medical Center (1987 - 2005)
  • Director, Reproductive Endocrinology & Infertility Fellowship, Stanford University School of Medicine (1994 - 2005)
  • Director, Division of Reproductive Endocrinology & Infertility, Dept OB/GYN Stanford University School of Medicine (1995 - 2005)
  • Director, Center for Research on Reproduction and Women's Health and Genomic Medicine, Stanford Univesity School of Medicine (1996 - 2005)
  • Associate Chair of Research, Stanford University School of Medicine - Obstetrics & Gynecology (1998 - 2005)
  • Director, Women's Health @ Stanford, Stanford University School of Medicine (2001 - 2005)
  • Board of Directors, Society for Women's Health Research (2002 - 2007)
  • Director, Women's Health Scholarly Concentration, Stanford University School of Medicine (2003 - 2005)
  • Board of Directors, American Society for Reproductive Medicine (2004 - 2007)

Honors & Awards

  • President's Achievement Award, Society for Gynecologic Investigation (1998)
  • Stanley McCormick Endowed Professorship, Stanford University School of Medicine (December 2001 - present)
  • Elected Member, Institute of Medicine, National Academy of Sciences (2002 - present)
  • Excellence in Teaching Award, Stanford University School of Medicine (2003-2004)
  • Best Doctors in America, San Francisco Magazine (2004-2005)

Professional Education

  • MD, Stanford University, Medicine (1982)
  • PhD, UCLA, Biochemistry (1977)

Current Research and Scholarly Interests

Our laboratory has had a long-standing interest in the role of normal and abnormal endometrial development and its relevance to implantation, miscarriage, fetal growth, and endometriosis in humans. We also have studied mechanisms underlying ovarian follicle development and steroidogenesis.
We study the roles of the insulin-like growth factor (IGF) system and the Wnt family in human endometrium, the role of the IGF system in human trophoblast invasion and function, and have numerous ongoing studies on functional genomics of human reproductive tissues.
We have pursued gene discovery in the window of implantation in endometrium from normal women and in women with endometrial disorders, including endometriosis, repetitive miscarriage, and unexplained infertility. We have also performed molecular profiling of human endometrium across the menstrual cycle and in these disease states. These studies have resulted in identification of markers of diseases of the endometrium and potential targets for therapies.
Our lab has also conducted molecular profiling of human placental trophoblasts at different gestational ages and in pregnancy disorders, as well as human oviduct under different hormonal conditions and disease states.
In addition, we study mechanisms underlying endometrial differentiation in response to steroid hormones, placental hypoxia and fetal growth, and cross-talk between the placenta and the maternal decidua, as well as putative endometrial stem cells and their relevance to endometrial regeneration and endometrial disorders.
Our studies in the ovary focus on the IGF system, using a mouse model in which PAPP-A has been deleted by homologous recombination.

Graduate and Fellowship Programs

  • Molecular and Genetic Medicine (Fellowship Program)

All Publications

  • Microarray expression profiling reveals candidate genes for human uterine receptivity Am J Pharmacogenomics Giudice LC 2004; 4: 299-312
  • Endometriosis Lancet (Seminar) Giudice LC, Kao LC 2004; 364: 1789-1799
  • Developmental Response to Hypoxia FASEB J Huang S-T J, Vo KC, Lyell DJ, Faessen GH, Tulac S, Giaccia AJ, Giudice LC 2004; 18: 148-1365
  • Expression profiling of endometrium from women with endometriosis reveals candidate genes for disease-based implantation failure and infertility Endcorinology Kao LC, Germeyer A, Tulac S, Lobo S, Yang JP, Taylor RN, Osteen K, Lessey BD, Giudice LC 2003; 144: 2870-2881
  • Activation of the protein kinase A in human endometrial stromal cells reveals sequential categorical gene regulation. Physiologic Genomics Tierney EP, Tulac S, Huang S-T J, Giudice LC 2003; 16: 47-66
  • Identification, characterization, and regulation of the canonical Wnt signaling pathway in human endometrium J Clin Endocrinol Metab Tulac S, Kao LK, Nayak N, Giudice LC 2003; 88: 3860-3868
  • Global gene profiling in human endometrium during the window of implantation Endocrinology Kao LC, Yang J-P, Tulac S, Suh DS, Taylor RN, Osteen K, Lessey BD, Giudice LC 2002; 143: 2119-2138
  • Hypoxia regulates insulin-like growth factor-binding protein 1 in human fetal hepatocytes in primary culture: Suggestive molecular mechanisms for in utero fetal growth restriction caused by uteroplacental insufficiency JOURNAL OF CLINICAL ENDOCRINOLOGY & METABOLISM Popovici, R. M., Lu, M., Bhatia, S., Faessen, G. H., Giaccia, A. J., Giudice, L. C. 2001; 86 (6): 2653-2659


    Intrauterine growth restriction (IUGR) can be a consequence of decreased uterine blood flow (uteroplacental insufficiency) and maternal and fetal hypoxia. Insulin-like growth factors (IGFs) and their binding proteins (IGFBPs) are key elements in fetal growth. IGF-I is a major growth promoter in utero. IGFBP-1 is primarily made in the liver, and it mostly inhibits IGF actions at the cellular level. IGFBP-1 is elevated in the fetal circulation of human and animal pregnancies complicated by IUGR caused by placental insufficiency and in utero hypoxia and is believed to restrict fetal growth by sequestering IGFs. In this study, we developed a protocol to establish highly pure primary cultures of human fetal hepatocytes in vitro and investigated their expression of IGFBP-1 messenger RNA (mRNA) and protein and the effects of hypoxia on their expression of IGFBP-1 mRNA and protein. Hepatocytes were isolated from second-trimester human fetal livers (n = 7) and purified by Percoll gradient centrifugation. Hepatocyte cultures were characterized by immunocytochemistry and were compared with hepatocytes in situ in human fetal liver tissue, by immunohistochemistry, using specific antibodies and indirect immunofluorescence. Cultures consisted primarily (>90%) of cells positive for cytokeratin 18, fibrinogen, and IGFBP-1, with less than 2% vascular cells and less than 8% macrophages. Identification of isolated hepatocytes was further confirmed by morphology. Hepatocytes were cultured in defined medium, and Northern analysis revealed expression of a 1.5-kb IGFBP-1 mRNA transcript in hepatocytes cultured under normoxic conditions, for 24 h, that did not increase in steady-state levels after 48 h in culture. Under hypoxic conditions (2% O(2)), IGFBP-1 mRNA expression increased 3- to 4-fold, compared with normoxic controls. Cells cultured under 10% O(2) did not demonstrate an increase in IGFBP-1 mRNA levels. IGFBP-1 protein in conditioned medium (CM) was measured by immunoradiometric assay and increased 3- to 4-fold under hypoxic (2% O(2)), compared with normoxic, conditions. Western ligand blot analysis of CM revealed the presence of IGFBP-1, IGFBP-2, IGFBP-3, and IGFBP-4. IGFBP-1 was the most abundant IGFBP in CM, and densitometric analysis revealed a 2.5-fold increase in IGFBP-1 under hypoxic, compared with normoxic, conditions, supporting the immunoradiometric assay results. A 3-fold increase in IGFBP-3 mRNA, but not other IGFBPs, was noted under hypoxic, compared with normoxic, conditions. This study demonstrates that human fetal hepatocytes can be cultured in defined medium, as primary cultures with high purity, and that they express IGFBP-1 mRNA and secrete IGFBP-1 protein in vitro. In addition, the data demonstrate that hypoxia up-regulates fetal hepatocyte IGFBP-1 mRNA steady-state levels and protein, with this being the major IGFBP derived from the fetal hepatocyte. The data support a role for the fetal liver as a source of elevated circulating levels of IGFBP-1 in fetuses with in utero hypoxia and IUGR.

    View details for Web of Science ID 000169412000049

    View details for PubMedID 11397868

  • Pregnancy-associated plasma protein-A is the insulin-like growth factor binding protein-4 protease secreted by human ovarian granulosa cells and is a marker of dominant follicle selection and the corpus luteum. ENDOCRINOLOGY Conover, C. A., Faessen, G. F., Ilg, K. E., Chandrasekher, Y. A., Christiansen, M., Overgaard, M. T., Oxvig, C., Giudice, L. C. 2001; 142 (5): 2155-2158


    Insulin-like growth factors (IGFs), IGF binding proteins (IGFBPs), and IGFBP proteases are important in ovarian function. IGFs stimulate granulosa steroidogenesis, an effect that is inhibited by IGFBP-4 and augmented by IGFBP-4 proteolysis. We have recently identified the IGFBP-4 protease in human ovarian follicular fluid (FF) as pregnancy-associated plasma protein-A (PAPP-A). In the current study, we identify the IGFBP-4 protease secreted by cultured human ovarian granulosa cells as PAPP-A, based on specific immunoinhibition and immunodepletion of the IGFBP-4 protease activity with PAPP-A polyclonal antibodies and immunorecognition by PAPP-A monoclonal antibodies in ELISA. PAPP-A was barely detectable in conditioned media (CM) from granulosa derived from /=9 mm, coincident with dominant follicle selection, and by luteinizing granulosa. PAPP-A levels in CM from the latter did not change in response to IGF-II or hCG (100 ng/mL). A naturally occurring inhibitor of PAPP-A, proform of eosinophil major basic protein (proMBP), was detected by ELISA in estrogen-dominant follicular fluid FF, but not in CM from granulosa or luteinizing granulosa cells treated with IGF-II (0-200 ng/mL), FSH (0-100 ng/mL) or hCG (0-100 ng/mL), suggesting an alternative source (other than granulosa) for proMBP, compared to PAPP-A. The data demonstrate granulosa cells as a source of PAPP-A in human ovary and suggest that PAPP-A is a marker of ovarian follicle selection and corpus luteum formation. In addition the data suggest complex regulation of this system in human ovary.

    View details for Web of Science ID 000168434500058

    View details for PubMedID 11316785

  • Insulin-like growth factor (IGF)-II inhibition of endometrial stromal cell tissue inhibitor of metalloproteinase-3 and IGF-binding protein-1 suggests paracrine interactions at the decidua : trophoblast interface during human implantation JOURNAL OF CLINICAL ENDOCRINOLOGY & METABOLISM Irwin, J. C., Suen, L. F., Faessen, G. H., Popovici, R. M., Giudice, L. C. 2001; 86 (5): 2060-2064


    In human pregnancy, insulin-like growth factor (IGF)-II messenger RNA (mRNA) is expressed at the maternal-fetal interface exclusively by the placental trophoblast. Highest levels are expressed by the invading extravillous trophoblasts, which also secrete matrix metalloproteinases as they degrade the decidual extracellular matrix. In contrast, the maternal decidua expresses high levels of IGF-binding protein (IGFBP)-1 and tissue inhibitors of matrix metalloproteinase (TIMPs), both of which inhibit trophoblast invasiveness in vitro. The present study investigated the hypothesis that IGF-II may serve as a paracrine modulator of maternal restraints on invasion, by examining its effects on TIMP-3 and IGFBP-1 expression by decidualized endometrial stromal cells. Human endometrial stromal cells were decidualized in vitro with progesterone (P), after which 0-130 nM IGF-II and IGF analogs were added. IGFBP-1 in conditioned medium was assayed by immunoradiometric assay. In addition, Northern analyses were conducted using a PCR-generated 421-bp complementary DNA (cDNA) fragment corresponding to nucleotides 132-553 of the human TIMP-3 cDNA, and a 934-bp EcoRI fragment of the human IGFBP-1 cDNA. TIMP-3 mRNA transcripts of 2.2, 2.5, and 4.4 kilobases were detected in decidualized stromal cells not treated with IGF-II, but not detected in nondecidualized stromal cells, consistent with its known induction upon decidualization and in response to P. In decidualized stromal cells, IGF-II and Des(1-6) IGF-II, an analog with reduced affinity for IGFBPs, caused a dose-dependent inhibition of TIMP-3 mRNA expression. Long R(3) IGF-I, an IGF analog with minimal affinity for IGFBPs, also significantly inhibited (79 +/- 0.3%) TIMP-3 mRNA expression in these cells at 6 nM. Decidualized stromal cells secreted IGFBP-1 and expressed a 1.5-kilobase IGFBP-1 transcript, which was not detected in nondecidualized cells, consistent with its known induction upon decidualization and in response to P. IGF-II caused a dose-dependent inhibition of IGFBP-1 mRNA expression and protein secretion in decidualized stromal cells when added in molar excess of endogenous IGFBP-1 levels, with virtually complete inhibition at higher concentrations of IGF-II (65 and 130 nM). By comparison, Long R(3) IGF-I inhibited IGFBP-1 expression with a 50% effective dose of 0.2-0.4 nM. These data suggest that the invading trophoblast has the capacity, via IGF-II, to inhibit maternal restraints on trophoblast invasiveness by regulating decidual TIMP-3 and IGFBP-1.

    View details for Web of Science ID 000168731600038

    View details for PubMedID 11344207

  • Discovery of new inducible genes in in vitro decidualized human endometrial stromal cells using microarray technology ENDOCRINOLOGY Popovici, R. M., Kao, L. C., Giudice, L. C. 2000; 141 (9): 3510-3513


    A prerequisite for implantation in humans is differentiation (decidualization) of stromal cells in the endometrium, believed to be stimulated by progesterone (P) and/or cAMP. In the current study, advances in microarray technology have allowed us to investigate genes differentially expressed in human endometrial stromal cells decidualized in vitro in response to P or cAMP, compared to nondecidualized cells. Endometrial stromal cells were isolated from endometrial biopsy tissue and cultured without steroid hormones, with 1 microM P (after E2 priming), or 1 mM 8-bromo-cAMP. Total RNA was isolated and reverse transcribed to synthesize 32P-labeled cDNA probes using primers corresponding to genes represented on the Clontech Human Atlas cDNA Expression Array. After hybridization, signals were quantified by phosphor imaging densitometry and were normalized to GAPDH and ubiquitin. Of the 588 genes screened, marked upregulation was observed of cytokines, growth factors, nuclear transcription factors, members of the cyclin family, and mediators of the cAMP signal transduction pathway. Additional mRNAs expressed unexpectedly and regulated by P and cAMP, include the insulin receptor, some neurotransmitter receptors, neuromodulators, the FSH receptor, inhibin/activin betaA subunit, inhibin alpha, and TNF-related apoptosis-inducing ligand (TRAIL). Expression of previously unrecognized genes regulated in decidualized human endometrial stromal cells suggests mechanisms not yet appreciated in the endometrium during decidualization. In addition, marked upregulation of cytokines, chemokines, growth factors, apoptosis modulators, and their receptors in decidualized stromal cells supports a major role for paracrine interactions between the stroma and other endogenous and transient cell populations within the endometrium and during early pregnancy.

    View details for Web of Science ID 000088872200055

    View details for PubMedID 10965925

  • Human placental trophoblasts secrete a disintegrin metalloproteinase very similar to the insulin-like growth factor binding protein-3 protease in human pregnancy serum ENDOCRINOLOGY Irwin, J. C., Suen, L. F., Chen, B. H., Martin, R., Cannon, P., Deal, C. L., Giudice, L. C. 2000; 141 (2): 666-674


    During the course of human pregnancy, there is a marked increase in insulin-like growth factor (IGF) binding protein (IGFBP)-3 protease activity in maternal serum that is first evident at 6 weeks of gestation, persists through term, and returns to nonpregnancy levels by day 5 postpartum. This protease activity cleaves IGFBP-3 into smaller fragments that have markedly reduced affinity for the IGFs. To date, the precise identity and cellular origin of the pregnancy-associated serum IGFBP-3 protease have not been established. To investigate whether placental and/or decidual tissues, which uniquely develop during pregnancy, may be sources of the pregnancy-associated serum IGFBP protease, we examined the secretion of IGFBP-3 protease in vitro by isolated human cytotrophoblasts or fibroblasts from second trimester placentae and by in vitro decidualized human endometrial stromal cells. Cytotrophoblasts were either cultured alone, which favors aggregation and fusion, or cocultured with decidualized endometrial stromal cells, which favors differentiation to an invasive phenotype. IGFBP-3 protease activity was detected in trophoblast, but not in placental fibroblast or decidualized endometrial cultures, and was also present in trophoblast-endometrial cocultures. Western ligand blot and Western immunoblot analyses showed that most of the endogenous IGFBP-3 in trophoblast cultures was in the form of low molecular weight fragments with reduced IGF binding affinity. The substrate specificity of the trophoblast-derived protease was identical to that in pregnancy serum, showing activity against IGFBP-2, -3, and -4, but being inactive against IGFBP-1. IGFBP-3 proteolysis by both pregnancy serum and trophoblast conditioned medium showed a major peak of activity at neutral pH. The trophoblast-derived activity caused time-and temperature-dependent proteolysis of IGFBP-3 into fragments of identical size as those produced by pregnancy serum, and also shared its sensitivity to protease inhibitors: highly sensitive to EDTA and o-phenanthroline, partially sensitive to the serine protease inhibitors AEBSF and aprotinin, and insensitive to alpha2-antiplasmin, and to aspartic and cysteine protease inhibitors. IGFBP-3 proteolysis by both pregnancy serum and trophoblast conditioned medium was also insensitive to tissue inhibitor of metalloproteinase-1, precluding the involvement of the matrix metalloproteinases. In contrast, both the pregnancy serum- and trophoblast-derived proteases were preferentially inhibited by a hydroxamic acid derivative with selective activity against the disintegrin-metalloproteinase tumor necrosis factor-alpha converting enzyme. This study shows that placental trophoblasts produce an IGFBP-3 protease with characteristics very similar to the activity found in pregnancy serum and indicates these cells at the maternal-fetal interface are a potential source of the pregnancy-associated serum IGFBP-3 protease. The findings further suggest that the main IGFBP-3 protease activity in both pregnancy serum and trophoblast conditioned medium may correspond to a disintegrin-metalloproteinase type enzyme.

    View details for Web of Science ID 000084863200024

    View details for PubMedID 10650948

  • Hypoxia stimulates insulin-like growth factor binding protein 1 (IGFBP-1) gene expression in HepG2 cells: A possible model for IGFBP-1 expression in fetal hypoxia PROCEEDINGS OF THE NATIONAL ACADEMY OF SCIENCES OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA Tazuke, S. I., Mazure, N. M., Sugawara, J., Carland, G., Faessen, G. H., Suen, L. F., Irwin, J. C., Powell, D. R., Giaccia, A. J., Giudice, L. C. 1998; 95 (17): 10188-10193


    IGFBP-1 is elevated in fetuses with long-term, chronic hypoxia and intrauterine growth restriction. We investigated the hypothesis that hypoxia regulates IGFBP-1 in the human fetus in vivo and IGFBP-1 gene expression and protein in vitro. Umbilical artery IGFBP-1 levels (mean +/- SEM) from term babies with respiratory acidosis (acute hypoxia), normal babies, and those with mixed respiratory/metabolic acidosis (more profound and prolonged hypoxia) were measured using an immunoradiometric assay. IGFBP-1 levels were similar in normal (n = 12) and acutely hypoxic (n = 6) babies (189.1 +/- 71.8 vs. 175.8 +/- 45.9 ng /ml, respectively, P = 0.789). However, with more profound and prolonged hypoxia (n = 19), IGFBP-1 levels were markedly elevated (470.6 +/- 80.0 ng /ml, P = 0.044). To investigate IGFBP-1 regulation by hypoxia in vitro, HepG2 cells were incubated under hypoxia (pO2 = 2%) and normoxia (pO2 = 20%). IGFBP-1 protein and mRNA increased 8- and 12-fold, respectively, under hypoxic conditions. Hypoxia did not affect protein or mRNA levels of IGFBP-2 or -4. IGFBP-5 and -6 mRNAs, undetectable in control cells, were not induced by hypoxia, whereas minimally expressed IGFBP-3 mRNA increased twofold. Investigation into IGFBP-1 gene structure revealed three potential consensus sequences for the hypoxia response element (HRE) in the first intron. To investigate functionality, a 372-bp fragment of IGFBP-1 intron 1, containing putative HREs, was placed 5' to a heterologous hsp70 promoter in a plasmid using luciferase as a reporter gene. Under hypoxia, reporter gene activity increased up to 30-fold. Mutations in the middle HRE abolished reporter activity in response to hypoxia, suggesting that this HRE is functional in the IGFBP-1 hypoxia response. Cotransfection of HRE reporter genes with a constitutively expressing hypoxia-inducible factor 1 plasmid in HepG2 cells resulted in a fourfold induction of reporter activity, suggesting a role for hypoxia-inducible factor 1 in hypoxia induction of IGFBP-1 gene expression. These data support the hypothesis that hypoxia regulation of IGFBP-1 may be a mechanism operating in the human fetus to restrict insulin-like growth factor-mediated growth in utero under conditions of chronic hypoxia and limited substrate availability.

    View details for Web of Science ID 000075475200085

    View details for PubMedID 9707622