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Keywords:

  • Endometriosis;
  • human leukocyte antigen;
  • immune tolerance;
  • killer immunoglobulin-like receptor;
  • natural killer cell;
  • peritoneal macrophage

Problem  We investigated host immunologic responses to endometriosis by comparing immune cell surface antigens in peripheral blood (PB) and peritoneal fluid (PF) from women with endometriosis with those in PB and PF from other patients.

Method of study  Japanese women with endometriosis (n = 56) were compared with controls with other laparoscopic diagnoses (n = 68). PB and PF were collected at the time of laparoscopy for flow cytometry.

Results  No significant difference in phenotypic parameters of T cells (CD3, CD4, and CD8), B cells (CD19), natural killer (NK) cells (CD56), or monocytes/macrophages (CD14) was seen between women with and without endometriosis. However, increased killer immunoglobulin-like receptor (CD158a) expression by NK cells and decreased human leukocyte antigen (HLA)-ABC and -DR expression by macrophages, all suggesting decreased functional activation were found in endometriosis. These markers showed significant association with endometriosis by odds ratio, logistic regression, and decision tree analyses.

Conclusions  Increased CD158a+ NK cells in PB and PF indicated decreased NK cell cytotoxicity in endometriosis, while decreased HLA expression on PF macrophages suggested impaired antigen presentation. Thus, aberrant immune responses by NK cells and macrophages may represent risk factors for endometriosis.