KRAS mutations and endometriosis burden of disease

J Pathol Clin Res. 2023 Jul;9(4):302-312. doi: 10.1002/cjp2.317. Epub 2023 Mar 28.


The clinical phenotype of somatic mutations in endometriosis is unknown. The objective was to determine whether somatic KRAS mutations were associated with greater disease burden in endometriosis (i.e. more severe subtypes and higher stage). This prospective longitudinal cohort study included 122 subjects undergoing endometriosis surgery at a tertiary referral center between 2013 and 2017, with 5-9 years of follow-up. Somatic activating KRAS codon 12 mutations were detected in endometriosis lesions using droplet digital PCR. KRAS mutation status for each subject was coded as present (KRAS mutation in at least one endometriosis sample in a subject) or absent. Standardized clinical phenotyping for each subject was carried out via linkage to a prospective registry. Primary outcome was anatomic disease burden, based on distribution of subtypes (deep infiltrating endometriosis, ovarian endometrioma, and superficial peritoneal endometriosis) and surgical staging (Stages I-IV). Secondary outcomes were markers of surgical difficulty, demographics, pain scores, and risk of re-operation. KRAS mutation presence was higher in subjects with deep infiltrating endometriosis or endometrioma lesions only (57.9%; 11/19) and subjects with mixed subtypes (60.6%; 40/66), compared with those with superficial endometriosis only (35.1%; 13/37) (p = 0.04). KRAS mutation was present in 27.6% (8/29) of Stage I cases, in comparison to 65.0% (13/20) of Stage II, 63.0% (17/27) of Stage III, and 58.1% (25/43) of Stage IV cases (p = 0.02). KRAS mutation was also associated with greater surgical difficulty (ureterolysis) (relative risk [RR] = 1.47, 95% CI: 1.02-2.11) and non-Caucasian ethnicity (RR = 0.64, 95% CI: 0.47-0.89). Pain severities did not differ based on KRAS mutation status, at either baseline or follow-up. Re-operation rates were low overall, occurring in 17.2% with KRAS mutation compared with 10.3% without (RR = 1.66, 95% CI: 0.66-4.21). In conclusion, KRAS mutations were associated with greater anatomic severity of endometriosis, resulting in increased surgical difficulty. Somatic cancer-driver mutations may inform a future molecular classification of endometriosis.

Keywords: KRAS; classification; endometrioma; endometriosis; ethnicity; fertility; gene; pain; somatic mutation; surgery.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Endometriosis* / complications
  • Endometriosis* / genetics
  • Endometriosis* / surgery
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Mutation
  • Neoplasms*
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins p21(ras) / genetics


  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins p21(ras)
  • KRAS protein, human