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PLoS One. 2018 Nov 14;13(11):e0197698. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0197698. eCollection 2018.

Antagonizing the corticotropin releasing hormone receptor 1 with antalarmin reduces the progression of endometriosis.

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Dept. Neuroscience, University of Texas at Rio Grande Valley School of Medicine, Edinburg, Texas, United States of America.
Dept. of Human Genetics, University of Texas at Rio Grande Valley School of Medicine, Edinburg, Texas, United States of America.
Dept. of Psychiatry and Neurology, University of Texas at Rio Grande Valley School of Medicine, Harlingen, Texas, United States of America.
Division of Basic Sciences, Ponce Health Sciences University-Ponce Research Institute, Ponce, Puerto Rico.
Dept. of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Ponce Health Sciences University, School of Medicine, Ponce, Puerto Rico.
Dept. of Internal Medicine, Ponce Health Sciences University, School of Medicine, Ponce Puerto Rico.


Endometriosis is a disorder in which endometrial tissue is found outside the uterus causing pain, infertility and stress. Finding effective, non-hormonal and long-term treatments for endometriosis still remains one of the most significant challenges in the field. Corticotropin releasing hormone (CRH) is one of the main signaling peptides within the hypothalamic pituitary adrenal (HPA) axis released in response to stress. CRH can affect nervous and visceral tissues such as the uterus and gut via activation of two types of CRH receptors: CRHR1 and CRHR2. Our aim was to determine if blocking CRHR1 with antalarmin will reduce endometriosis progression. In experiment 1 we induced endometriosis in female rats by suturing uterine horn tissue next to the intestinal mesentery and allowed to progress for 7 days. We determined that after 7 days, there was a significant increase in CRHR1 within endometriotic vesicles as compared to normal uterus. In Experiment 2, we induced endometriosis and administered either antalarmin (20 mg/kg, i.p.) or vehicle during the first 7 days after surgery. A separate group of sham surgery rats served as non-endometriosis controls. Endometriosis was allowed to progress until 60 days after surgery, at which time rats were tested for anxiety behaviors. At the time of sacrifice, endometriotic vesicles, uterus and blood were collected. Treatment with antalarmin significantly reduced the size (67% decrease) and number (30% decrease) of endometriotic vesicles. Antalarmin also prevented the increase in CRH and CRHR1 mRNA within endometriotic vesicles but not of glucocorticoid receptor. Endometriosis did not change anxiety behaviors in the open field and zero-maze tests and prior antalarmin administration did not modify this. Our data provides the first in-vivo demonstration for use of CRHR1 antagonist for the treatment of endometriosis opening the possibility for further exploring CRH signaling as a treatment target for this debilitating disease.

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