Paracrine regulation of matrix metalloproteinase expression in endometriosis

Ann N Y Acad Sci. 2002 Mar;955:147-56; discussion 157-8, 396-406. doi: 10.1111/j.1749-6632.2002.tb02775.x.


Following retrograde menstruation, shed endometrial tissue fragments attach to and invade the peritoneal surface to form established endometriotic lesions. With disease progression, the biochemically active lesions undergo remodeling and become fibrotic. Matrix metalloproteinase enzymes (MMPs) and the tissue inhibitors of metalloproteinases (TIMPs) play a significant role in normal endometrial remodeling during menses. Anomalous expression of MMPs and TIMPs has been identified in endometriotic lesions as compared to their highly regulated expression in eutopic endometrium. The paracrine mechanisms regulating misexpression of MMPs and TIMPs by endometriotic lesions are, however, not well defined. Misexpression of the MMPs and TIMPs may be due to innate anomalies in the eutopic endometrium from women with endometriosis, in the resident immune cells and peritoneal cells that juxtapose the ectopic endometrium, and/or numerous substances present in peritoneal fluid of women with endometriosis. The majority of MMPs are under strict transcriptional regulation. Steroid hormones and cytokines appear to act on the MMP promoter, either independently or in consort, to provide both positive and negative regulation of these genes. Misregulated expression of MMPs and TIMPs is associated with a more aggressive phenotype and a cascade of events facilitating peritoneal extracellular matrix degradation and establishment or remodeling of endometriotic lesions. The mechanisms by which MMP and TIMP expression are misregulated warrant further investigation as such information may provide insight into novel therapeutic modalities for endometriosis.

MeSH terms

  • Endometriosis / enzymology*
  • Endometriosis / physiopathology
  • Female
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Enzymologic / physiology
  • Humans
  • Matrix Metalloproteinases / genetics
  • Matrix Metalloproteinases / metabolism*


  • Matrix Metalloproteinases