Painful endometriosis in women could be treated with a therapy that eases iron overload, according to researchers. The results of their study have been published in the current issue of Human Reproduction.
Women with endometriosis have endometrial tissue developing outside the uterus, which attaches to ligaments and organs in the abdomen. As a result there is often pain, bleeding, inflammation, infertility and adhesions. About 10 percent of women may be affected by this disease.
Belgian researchers have concluded from their study with mice that an overload of iron in the pelvic cavity may help cause these lesions to grow by promoting the proliferation of their epithelial (lining) cells. The study revealed that this iron overload does not actually cause endometriosis.
In addition the researchers found that treatment with an 'iron chelater' which is a molecule that can attach to metal ions and neutralize their harmful effects on the body can reduce cell proliferation in the lesions.
Research leader Jacques Donnez, head of the department of gynecology at the Catholic University of Louvain 'Our findings represent a crucial step in finding the answer to endometriosis, because we are focusing our research more on the origins and causes of the disease in the context of prevention than on surgical treatment when the disease is already present.'
He added,'We really hope that, in the future, genetics will help us determine the population of young women at high risk of endometriosis and that treatment, resulting from our findings, may then prevent the development or evolution of the disease.'