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Hum Reprod. 2008 May;23(5):1053-62. doi: 10.1093/humrep/den044. Epub 2008 Mar 10.

L1 cell adhesion molecule (L1CAM) as a pathogenetic factor in endometriosis.

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  • 1Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, University of Schleswig-Holstein, Ratzeburgerallee 160, 23538 Luebeck, Germany.



Endometriosis is a benign and progressive disease with a high prevalence. Women with endometriosis, especially with atypical endometriosis, have a higher probability for developing ovarian cancer compared with women without endometriosis. The L1 cell adhesion molecule (L1CAM) is over expressed in ovarian and endometrial carcinomas and is associated with a bad prognosis. Here, we have analysed L1CAM expression in endometriosis.


In our study with the samples from 79 patients with, and 37 patients without, endometriosis, we found that endometriosis cell lines and short-term cultures of endometrium from women with endometriosis expressed L1CAM at the mRNA and protein level. Quantitative RT-PCR analysis showed that L1CAM was expressed at significantly higher level in the epithelial compartment from patients with endometriosis compared with healthy controls (P = 0.0126). By immunohistochemical staining, 15 of 31 ovarian endometriotic lesions (48%) were shown to have L1CAM-positive staining. Of these 15 L1CAM-positive samples, 13 were atypical endometriotic lesions. Soluble L1 present in the conditioned medium of epithelial endometrium cultures from women with endometriosis was able to stimulate neurite outgrowth as measured in a chicken ganglion assay.


We propose that L1CAM could promote endometriosis development by increasing enervation and aggravation. L1CAM expression is higher in atypical endometriosis compared with normal endometriosis.

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