A Review of Aberrant DNA Methylation and Epigenetic Agents Targeting DNA Methyltransferases in Endometriosis

Curr Drug Targets. 2020;21(11):1047-1055. doi: 10.2174/1389450121666200228112344.


Background: Endometriosis (EMS) is a gynecological disease defined by the translocation and growth of endometrial tissue in other tissues or organs outside the uterus. Its clinical manifestations are dysmenorrhea, irregular menstruation, and even infertility. Although EMS is a benign disease, it has the characteristics of malignant tumor and the potential of malignant transformation. Recent studies have found that EMS may involve epigenetic changes and that various epigenetic aberrations, especially aberrant DNA methylation may play an essential role in the pathogenesis of EMS. Previous studies have elucidated the epigenetic regulators of EMS and reported variations in epigenetic patterns of genes known to be associated with abnormal hormonal, immune, and inflammatory states of EMS. With the development of high-throughput sequencing and other biomolecular technologies, we have a better understanding of genome-wide methylation in EMS.

Objective: This article will discuss the potentiality of targeting DNA methylation as the therapeutic approach for EMS.

Results: This article reviews the role of DNA methylation in the pathophysiology of EMS and provides insight into a novel therapeutic approach for EMS by targeting DNA methylation modifiers. We also review the current progress in using DNA methylation inhibitors in EMS therapy and the potential promise and challenges ahead.

Conclusion: Aberrant DNA methylation plays an essential role in the pathogenesis of EMS and epigenetic agents targeting DNA methyltransferases are expected to be the theoretical basis for the new treatment of EMS.

Keywords: DNMTs; DNMTs inhibitors; Endometriosis; aberrant DNA methylation; gene; pathway.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • CpG Islands / genetics
  • DNA Methylation / drug effects*
  • DNA Methylation / genetics*
  • DNA Modification Methylases / genetics*
  • DNA Modification Methylases / metabolism*
  • Endometriosis / diagnosis
  • Endometriosis / drug therapy*
  • Endometriosis / genetics*
  • Epigenesis, Genetic / drug effects*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Promoter Regions, Genetic


  • DNA Modification Methylases