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Reprod Sci. 2012 Aug;19(8):851-62. doi: 10.1177/1933719112438443. Epub 2012 Apr 23.

Stress exacerbates endometriosis manifestations and inflammatory parameters in an animal model.

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Department of Physiology and Pharmacology, Ponce School of Medicine and Health Sciences, Ponce, PR 00716, USA.


Women with endometriosis have significant emotional distress; however, the contribution of stress to the pathophysiology of this disease is unclear. We used a rat model of endometriosis to examine the effects of stress on the development of this condition and its influence on inflammatory parameters. Female Sprague-Dawley rats were subjected to swim stress for 10 consecutive days prior to the surgical induction of endometriosis by suturing uterine horn implants next to the intestinal mesentery (endo-stress). Sham-stress animals had sutures only, and an endo-no stress group was not subjected to the stress protocol. At the time of sacrifice on day 60, endometriotic vesicles were measured and colons assessed for macroscopic and microscopic damage. Colonic tissue and peritoneal fluid were collected for inflammatory cell analysis. Endometriosis, regardless of stress, produced a decrease in central corticotropin-releasing factor immunoreactivity, specifically in the CA3 subregion of the hippocampus. Prior exposure to stress increased both the number and severity of vesicles found in animals with endometriosis. Stress also increased colonic inflammation, motility, myeloperoxidase levels, and numbers of mast cells. In summary, prior stress may contribute to the development and severity of endometriosis in this animal model through mechanisms involving cell recruitment (eg, mast cells), release of inflammatory mediators, and deregulation of hypothalamic-pituitary axis responses in the hippocampus.

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