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Fertil Steril. 2001 Aug;76(2):223-31.

Treating endometriosis as an autoimmune disease.

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Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, University of Kansas Medical Center, Kansas City, Kansas 66160, USA.



To review the literature on the role of autoimmunity in the etiology of endometriosis, compare the similarities in the pathophysiologies between endometriosis and autoimmune diseases, and discuss the use of immunomodulators currently used to treat autoimmune diseases as potential therapies for endometriosis.


The literature on endometriosis and other autoimmune diseases was reviewed, and summary data are presented.


Endometriosis shares many similarities with autoimmune diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis, Crohn's disease, and psoriasis. These similarities include elevated levels of cytokines, decreased cell apoptosis, and T- and B-cell abnormalities. Because the use of immunomodulators and inflammatory modulators has proven to be an effective means of medical management for these autoimmune diseases, similar therapies may prove useful in treating endometriosis.


Although substantial evidence indicates that endometriosis at least shares many similarities with autoimmune diseases, endometriosis is primarily treated by using compounds that induce a hypoestrogenic environment. A review of the literature combined with the shortcomings of current means of medical management for endometriosis support the postulate that treatment of endometriosis with immunomodulators and inflammatory modulators is warranted.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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