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Hormones Affect Methylation Among Endometriosis Patients

Uterine cells from endometriosis patients have different epigenetic markers than cells from those without the disease, a new study has found.

A team from the University of California, San Francisco, examined endometrial stromal fibroblasts isolated from patients with endometriosis and from controls. Endometriosis affects some 5 percent to 10 percent of women, and it is characterized by the growth of tissue similar to the uterine lining outside the uterus, such as on the ovaries or bladder. The condition can be painful and lead to infertility.

As they report in PLOS Genetics, the researchers examined how these cells respond to the presence of estrogen, progesterone, and a combination of the two. Cells from endometriosis patients had distinct methylation and gene expression patterns prior to exposure to the hormones as well as in response to exposure to each hormone individually and in combination. The researchers further noted differences among endometriosis patients based on the stage of their disease.

"The data indicate that the proper interactions of hormones and DNA methylation are critical in normal uterine function," first author Sahar Houshdaran from UCSF says in a statement. "The changes in these interactions that we've seen could play a role in the infertility that often accompanies endometriosis."