Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Progress Made In Understanding Causes And Treatment Of Endometriosis

Date:
January 22, 2009
Source:
Northwestern University
Summary:
Endometriosis is a poorly understood chronic disease characterized by infertility and chronic pelvic pain during intercourse. It affects between 5 to 10 million women in the US. A researcher who has studied it for 15 years describes the progress his lab has made in identifying the causes of and medical treatment for this disease.

Endometriosis is a poorly understood chronic disease characterized by infertility and chronic pelvic pain during intercourse. It affects between 5 to 10 million women in the U.S.

Serdar Bulun, M.D., George H. Gardner Professor of Clinical Gynecology at Northwestern University's Feinberg School of Medicine, has spent the past 15 years investigating and identifying the causes of this disease. Bulun, and colleagues in his lab, discovered key epigenetic abnormalities in endometriosis and identified existing chemicals that now help treat it.

Bulun describes his lab's findings over the past 10 years in the Jan. 15 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine.

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. (Normal endometrium, located in the uterine cavity, does not contain aromatase.) 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," Bulun said. "It triggers the endometriosis and makes it grow fast."

As a result of the aromatase finding, Bulun launched clinical trials in 2004 and 2005 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 noted.

Another molecular abnormality Bulun found is that women with endometriosis have a progesterone receptor that is inappropriately turned off. Normal progesterone action would be beneficial because it blocks the growth of endometriosis. In the absence of appropriate progesterone action, endometriosis tissue remains inflamed and continues to grow.

Bulun believes that 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. In fact, other investigators have implicated the environmental pollutant dioxin and the synthetic estrogen DES in the etiology of endometriosis.

"This may be a disease that women are born with," Bulun said. "Perhaps when a baby girl is born, it has already been determined that she is predisposed to have endometriosis. Maybe research can now be directed toward the fetal origins of the disease and raise the awareness of how the disease develops."


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Northwestern University. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Northwestern University. "Progress Made In Understanding Causes And Treatment Of Endometriosis." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 22 January 2009. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/01/090116164057.htm>.
Northwestern University. (2009, January 22). Progress Made In Understanding Causes And Treatment Of Endometriosis. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 21, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/01/090116164057.htm
Northwestern University. "Progress Made In Understanding Causes And Treatment Of Endometriosis." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/01/090116164057.htm (accessed September 21, 2014).

Share This



More Health & Medicine News

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Sierra Leone in Lockdown to Control Ebola

Sierra Leone in Lockdown to Control Ebola

AP (Sep. 21, 2014) Sierra Leone residents remained in lockdown on Saturday as part of a massive effort to confine millions of people to their homes in a bid to stem the biggest Ebola outbreak in history. (Sept. 20) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Sierra Leone's Nationwide Ebola Curfew Underway

Sierra Leone's Nationwide Ebola Curfew Underway

Newsy (Sep. 20, 2014) Sierra Leone is locked down as aid workers and volunteers look for new cases of Ebola. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Changes Found In Brain After One Dose Of Antidepressants

Changes Found In Brain After One Dose Of Antidepressants

Newsy (Sep. 19, 2014) A study suggest antidepressants can kick in much sooner than previously thought. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Could Grief Affect The Immune Systems Of Senior Citizens?

Could Grief Affect The Immune Systems Of Senior Citizens?

Newsy (Sep. 19, 2014) The study found elderly people are much more likely to become susceptible to infection than younger adults going though a similar situation. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins