Apoptosis and endometriosis

Front Biosci (Elite Ed). 2011 Jan 1;3:648-62. doi: 10.2741/e277.


Apoptosis is a distinctive form of programmed cell death resulting in the efficient elimination of cells without eliciting an inflammatory response. Endometriosis is characterized by the presence of endometrial cells with capacity to avoid apoptosis outside the uterus. Apoptosis plays a fundamental role for the pathogenesis of endometriosis. Eutopic endometrium from women with endometriosis has increased expression of anti-apoptotic factor and decreased expression of pro-apoptotic factors compared with endometrium from healthy women. These differences could contribute to the survival of regurgitating endometrial cells into the peritoneal cavity and development of endometriosis. Increased apoptosis of Fas-bearing immune cells in the peritoneal cavity may leads to their decreased scavenger activity that eventually results in prolonged survival of ectopic endometrial cells in women with endometriosis. This study is a current review of the literatures focused on the physiological role of apoptosis in normal endometrium and alterations in regulation of apoptosis in eutopic and ectopic endometrium from women with endometriosis. The role of apoptosis in the treatment of endometriosis is also reviewed.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Apoptosis / physiology*
  • Endometriosis / drug therapy
  • Endometriosis / metabolism
  • Endometriosis / physiopathology*
  • Endometrium / cytology
  • Endometrium / metabolism*
  • Endometrium / physiology
  • Fas Ligand Protein / metabolism*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Macrophages, Peritoneal / metabolism*
  • Mitochondria / metabolism
  • Mitochondria / physiology*
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-bcl-2 / metabolism*


  • FASLG protein, human
  • Fas Ligand Protein
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-bcl-2