Role of Epithelial-to-Mesenchymal Transition Markers in Different Stages of Endometriosis: Expression of the Snail, Slug, ZEB1, and Twist Genes

Crit Rev Eukaryot Gene Expr. 2021;31(2):89-95. doi: 10.1615/CritRevEukaryotGeneExpr.2021037996.


Among various epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition (EMT)-related transcription factors (TFs), altered expression levels of Snail-1, Snail-2/Slug, Twist, and ZEB1 have shown a significant association in different cancers having a higher risk of metastasis. However, their role in the circulation of endometriosis patients is not well understood. Hence, the present study was designed to evaluate the crucial role of these TFs in defining the molecular pathogenesis for endometriosis progression and differentiation from control subjects. The qualitative and quantitative expression analysis of Snail-1, Snail-2/Slug, Twist, and ZEB1 were analyzed in peripheral blood samples of 75 different stages of endometriosis patients and compared with 50 control subjects. Total RNA was extracted and converted into complementary DNA (cDNA) for relative quantification of each gene transcript using SYBRGreen-based reverse transcriptase quantitative polymerase chain reaction (RT-qPCR). The Livak method of relative quantification was used for calculating the fold change in each TF compared with endogenous control. All four selected TFs showed significantly upregulated expression levels in endometriosis patients compared with control subjects. A three-fold increase was observed for Snail-1 (p = 0.0001), and a two-fold increase was observed for Snail-2 (p = 0.01), Twist (p = 0.0002), and ZEB1 (p = 0.001) in stage III and IV compared with stage I and II of endometriosis patients. The present study revealed that EMT-related TFs play a crucial role in the pathogenesis and differentiating different stages of endometriosis patients through expression analysis of specific molecular cascades using non-invasive tools.