The Immunopathophysiology of Endometriosis

Trends Mol Med. 2018 Sep;24(9):748-762. doi: 10.1016/j.molmed.2018.07.004. Epub 2018 Jul 24.


Endometriosis is a chronic, inflammatory, estrogen-dependent disease characterized by the growth of endometrial tissue outside of the uterine cavity. Although the etiology of endometriosis remains elusive, immunological dysfunction has been proposed as a critical facilitator of ectopic lesion growth following retrograde menstruation of endometrial debris. However, it is not clear whether this immune dysfunction is a cause or consequence of endometriosis. Thus, here we provide in-depth insights into our current understanding of the immunopathophysiology of endometriosis and highlight challenges and opportunities for future research. With the explosion of successful immune-based therapies targeting various chronic inflammatory conditions, it is crucial to determine whether immune dysfunction can be therapeutically targeted in endometriosis.

Keywords: angiogenesis; endocrine; endometriosis; immune dysfunction; immune-microenvironment; inflammation.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adaptive Immunity
  • Animals
  • Cytokines / analysis
  • Cytokines / immunology
  • Endometriosis / complications
  • Endometriosis / immunology*
  • Endometriosis / pathology*
  • Endometrium / immunology
  • Endometrium / pathology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Immunity, Innate
  • Inflammation / complications
  • Inflammation / immunology
  • Inflammation / pathology
  • Neovascularization, Pathologic / complications
  • Neovascularization, Pathologic / immunology
  • Neovascularization, Pathologic / pathology


  • Cytokines

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