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Keywords:

  • Alpha 2-HS glycoprotein;
  • autoantibodies;
  • endometriosis;
  • infertility;
  • transferrin

PROBLEM: Endometriosis is a complicated multi-factorial disease. Genetic and immunologic factors play a key role in its pathophysiology. We were the first to describe endometrial and ovarian autoimmunity in women with endometriosis in 1981.

METHODS OF STUDY: ELISA and Western blot analysis. It is accepted that women with endometriosis have autoimmunity to endometrial, ovarian and nuclear antigens. We have now established that:

  • 1
    The endometrial autoantigens to which the endometriosis patients have autoimmune reactions are endometrial transferrin and alpha 2-HS glycoprotein.
  • 2
    Levels of antibodies to both these proteins are specifically elevated in women with endometriosis, thus making them important candidates for developing an endometrial antibody assay for a non-invasive diagnosis of endometriosis.
  • 3
    Levels of transferrin and alpha 2-HS glycoprotein are significantly elevated in the peritoneal fluid of women with endometriosis.
  • 4
    Antibodies to transferrin and alpha 2-HS glycoprotein also inhibit in vitro sperm motility.

CONCLUSION: These data strongly suggest the possibility of endometrial autoantibodies playing an important role in the infertility often associated with endometriosis.