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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2007 Jul 24;104(30):12451-6. Epub 2007 Jul 17.

Human endometriosis is associated with plasma cells and overexpression of B lymphocyte stimulator.

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  • 1Neurocrine Biosciences, Department of Discovery Biology, San Diego, CA 92130, USA.


Endometriosis affects 10-20% of women of reproductive age and is associated with pelvic pain and infertility, and its pathogenesis is not well understood. We used genomewide transcriptional profiling to characterize endometriosis and found that it exhibits a gene expression signature consistent with an underlying autoimmune mechanism. Endometriosis lesions are characterized by the presence of abundant plasma cells, many of which produce IgM, and macrophages that produce BLyS/BAFF/TNFSF13B, a member of the TNF superfamily implicated in other autoimmune diseases. B lymphocyte stimulator (BLyS) protein was found elevated in the serum of endometriosis patients. These observations suggest a model for the pathology of endometriosis where BLyS-responsive plasma cells interact with retrograde menstrual tissues to give rise to endometriosis lesions.

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