Background: The menstrual cycle exhibits a pattern of repeated inflammatory activity. The present study aims to evaluate inflammatory and endothelial markers during the two phases of a menstrual cycle.
Methods: The study cohort consisted of 102 women with regular menstrual cycles. Inflammatory and endothelial markers (interleukin-6 [IL-6], pentraxin-3 [PTX-3], hs-C reactive protein [hs-CRP], sE-selectin, sP-selectin, intracellular and vascular cell adhesion molecules [ICAM-1 and VCAM-1] and cathepsins L, B and S) were measured during the early follicular and the late luteal phase of a normal menstrual cycle.
Results: Pentraxin-3 (PTX-3) and hs-CRP were significantly higher during the follicular phase compared to the luteal phase (p < 0.001 respectively p = 0.025). The other inflammatory and endothelial markers, with the exception of cathepsin B, were higher, albeit not significantly, during the follicular phase.
Conclusions: Inflammatory activity, expressed mainly by members of the pentraxin family, is higher during the early follicular compared to the luteal phase. This could be associated to menstruation but the exact mechanisms behind this pattern are unclear and might involve the ovarian hormones or an effect on hepatocytes.
Keywords: Inflammation; menstrual cycle; pentraxin.