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Fertil Steril. 2010 Nov;94(6):1985-94. doi: 10.1016/j.fertnstert.2010.01.013. Epub 2010 Feb 26.

Involvement of the nuclear factor-κB pathway in the pathogenesis of endometriosis.

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  • 1Instituto de Investigaciones Materno Infantil, Departamento de Obstetricia y Ginecología, Hospital Clínico San Borja-Arriarán, Facultad de Medicina, Universidad de Chile, Santiago, Chile.



To evaluate the role of nuclear factor-κB (NF-κB) in the pathogenesis of endometriosis.


A literature search was conducted in PubMed to identify all relevant citations.


Our findings highlight the important role of NF-κB in the pathophysiology of endometriosis. In vitro and in vivo studies show that NF-κB-mediated gene transcription promotes inflammation, invasion, angiogenesis, and cell proliferation and inhibits apoptosis of endometriotic cells. Constitutive activation of NF-κB has been demonstrated in endometriotic lesions and peritoneal macrophages of endometriosis patients. Agents blocking NF-κB are effective inhibitors of endometriosis development and some drugs with known NF-κB inhibitory properties have proved efficient at reducing endometriosis-associated symptoms in women. Iron overload activates NF-κB in macrophages. NF-κB activation in macrophages and ectopic endometrial cells stimulates synthesis of proinflammatory cytokines, generating a positive feedback loop in the NF-κB pathway and promoting endometriotic lesion establishment, maintenance and development.


NF-κB transcriptional activity modulates key cell processes contributing to the initiation and progression of endometriosis. Because endometriosis is a multifactorial disease, inhibiting NF-κB appears to be a promising strategy for future therapies targeting different cell functions involved in endometriosis development, such as cell adhesion, invasion, angiogenesis, inflammation, proliferation, and apoptosis. Upcoming research will elucidate these hypotheses.

Copyright © 2010 American Society for Reproductive Medicine. Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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