Women Predisposed To Endometriosis By Birth – Scientists
Monday, January 19, 2009 at 12:36:18 PM
Scientists from Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine have found vital clues that may help explain the cause of endometriosis.
Endometriosis is a chronic disease characterized by infertility and chronic pelvic pain during intercourse.
The study, led by Serdar Bulun, M.D., George H. Gardner Professor of Clinical Gynecology at Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine, have discovered key epigenetic abnormalities in endometriosis and identified existing chemicals that now help treat it.
These abnormalities result from epigenetic defects that occur very early on during embryonic development and may be the result of early exposure to environmental toxins.
One of the abnormalities he discovered is the presence of the enzyme aromatase – which produces estrogen – in endometriosis, the diseased tissue that exists on pelvic organs and mimics the uterine lining.
As a result, women with endometriosis have excessive estrogen in this abnormal tissue found on surfaces of pelvic organs such as the ovaries.
Bulun found the protein SF1 that produces aromatase, which is supposed to be shut down, is active in endometriosis.
“Estrogen is like fuel for fire in endometriosis. “It triggers the endometriosis and makes it grow fast,” Bulun said.
Bulun launched clinical trials in testing aromatase inhibitors currently used in breast cancer treatment – for women with endometriosis.
The drug blocks estrogen formation and secondarily improves progesterone responsiveness.
“We came up with a new treatment of choice for post-menopausal women with endometriosis,” Bulun said. Moreover, treatment with an aromatase inhibitor is a very good option for premenopausal women with endometriosis not responding to existing treatments, he said.
Another molecular abnormality Bulun found is that women with endometriosis have a progesterone receptor that is inappropriately turned off.
In the absence of appropriate progesterone action, endometriosis tissue remains inflamed and continues to grow.
“This may be a disease that women are born with. Perhaps when a baby girl is born, it has already been determined that she is predisposed to have endometriosis,” Bulun said.
“Maybe research can now be directed toward the fetal origins of the disease and raise the awareness of how the disease develops,” he added.
I want to know what the other epigenetic abnormalities are, because apparently endometriosis experts have known about aromatase for awhile (see article in 2004 and in 2007).
I also want to know WHICH environmental toxins are suspected in early formation of endometriosis in utero.
A search of the web produced another article on these latest findings, and was kind enough to cite where this info came from: The New England Journal Of Medicine – which costs money to subscribe to.
I just registered for a 21-day free trial to get the contents of the article, to see what the other epigenetic abnormalities are, as well as whether any environmental toxins were listed as suspects in early formation of endometriosis in utero.
The full article gives some examples.
“…Endometriosis can be the result of diverse anatomical or biochemical aberrations of uterine function. For example, endometriosis commonly develops in young women with vaginal obstruction of outflow, possibly because of large quantities of backwashed menstrual tissue that has become implanted on pelvic organs. In contrast, endometriosis can also involve mechanisms that are independent of anatomical abnormalities; for example, the incidence of endometriosis is increased in women who were exposed in utero to environmental toxins or potent estrogens such as diethylstilbestrol.3.”
Edit: The New England Journal of Medicine and the author of the Endometriosis research paper posted there have graciously given full access to that research paper – click here. I did not find out anything new regarding epigenetic (inheritable) abnormalities, and the only example noted regarding environmental toxins was that of Diethylstilbestrol (DES). However, the article is well worth reading, and the author also goes into detail regarding treatment options using GnRH agonists and aromatase for pain relief.