, Volume 29, Issue 2, pp 193-210,
Open Access This content is freely available online to anyone, anywhere at any time.
Date: 15 May 2007

Neuroendocrine–immune disequilibrium and endometriosis: an interdisciplinary approach

Abstract

Endometriosis, a chronic disease characterized by endometrial tissue located outside the uterine cavity, affects one fourth of young women and is associated with chronic pelvic pain and infertility. However, an in-depth understanding of the pathophysiology and effective treatment strategies of endometriosis is still largely elusive. Inadequate immune and neuroendocrine responses are significantly involved in the pathophysiology of endometriosis, and key findings are summarized in the present review. We discuss here the role of different immune mechanisms particularly adhesion molecules, protein–glycan interactions, and pro-angiogenic mediators in the development and progression of the disease. Finally, we introduce the concept of endometrial dissemination as result of a neuroendocrine-immune disequilibrium in response to high levels of perceived stress caused by cardinal clinical symptoms of endometriosis.