It is completely normal for uterine tissue to grow inside the uterus, but when it is found growing outside the uterus or on the ovaries and fallopian tubes, a condition called endometriosis develops. Endometriosis affects millions of women in the United States, and it can cause bowel problems, chronic inflammation, and even infertility (Endometriosis Association
). There is no cure for endometriosis and scientists were not close to developing an effective treatment until now.
Dr. Bert O'Malley and his team from the Baylor College of Medicine published a study this week in Cell
linking estrogen receptor β to cases of endometriosis. The growth of abnormal tissue in cases of endometriosis is not inhibited by the immune system because of "altered signaling that is mediated by estrogen," Baylor scientists say.
In his study, O'Malley found that in samples of uterine tissue from women with endometriosis, estrogen receptor β was elevated in abnormal uterine tissue, significantly more so than in normal uterine tissue found inside the uterus. Even more, blocking high levels of estrogen receptor β reduced abnormal tissue growth. O'Malley and his team discovered that high levels estrogen receptor β helped the abnormal tissues escape detection by immune cells that would normally induced apoptosis, programmed cell death, in the harmful tissues.
Understanding the cell signaling network between immune cells and estrogen receptor β in cases of endometriosis is a huge step toward developing a therapy to treat women with this condition. O'Malley said the following regarding the matter:
As we unravel its molecular underpinnings, we come closer to finding an effective treatment.
Watch the following video to hear more about how endometriosis occurs and its impact on fertility in women.
Source: Medical Xpress