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Endocrinology. 2014 Oct;155(10):4015-26. doi: 10.1210/en.2014-1086. Epub 2014 Jul 22.

Estrogen receptor (ER) agonists differentially regulate neuroangiogenesis in peritoneal endometriosis via the repellent factor SLIT3.

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Medical Research Council Centre for Reproductive Health, The University of Edinburgh, Queens Medical Research Institute, 47 Little France Crescent, Edinburgh EH16 4TJ, United Kingdom.


Endometriosis is an estrogen-dependent neurovascular disorder characterized by growth of endometrial tissue (lesions) outside the uterine cavity. Patients suffer chronic pelvic pain, and it has been proposed that co-recruitment of nerves/blood vessels (neuroangiogenesis) into the lesions is fundamental to the development of painful symptoms. We hypothesized that estrogen-dependent regulation of axonal guidance molecules of the SLIT/ROBO (Roundabout) family could play a role in neuroangiogenesis occurring in endometriosis lesions found on the peritoneal wall. In tissue samples from human patients and a mouse model of endometriosis, concentrations of mRNA encoded by SLIT3 were significantly higher in lesions than normal peritoneum. Estrogen regulation of SLIT3 was investigated using 17β-estradiol and selective agonists for each subtype of estrogen receptor (ER) (ERα agonist, 4,4',4″-(4-propyl-(1H)-pyrazole-1,3,5-tryl) trisphenol; ERβ agonist, 2,3-bis(4-hydroxy-phenyl)-propionitrile [DPN]). In mice, DPN (EC50 0.85) increased Slit3 mRNA concentrations compared with hormone-depleted and 17β-estradiol-treated (EC50 0.1) animals and decreased the density of nerves but not vessels in endometriosis lesions. SLIT3 mRNA concentrations were increased in DPN-treated human endometrial endothelial cells and in 4,4',4″-(4-propyl-(1H)-pyrazole-1,3,5-tryl) trisphenol-treated (EC50 200) rat dorsal root ganglia neurons. Functional assays (neurite outgrowth, network formation) revealed that SLIT3 promotes angiogenesis but decreases neurogenesis. In conclusion, these data suggest that estrogen-dependent expression of SLIT3 may play a key role in regulating nerve-vessel interactions within the complex microenvironment of endometriosis lesions.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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