Researchers at the Feinstein Institute, Manhasset, NY established the Research Out-Smarts Endometriosis (ROSE) program to study the genetic and cellular basis of endometriosis. Research volunteers, both healthy and those with endometriosis, provided peripheral and menstrual blood samples which are stored in a biobank so they can be examined in the current and future research studies. A recently published study  examined the role of stromal fibroblasts, a type of stem cell found in menstrual blood, and the immune system. Professors Christine N. Metz, PhD, Peter K. Gregersen, MD, and Laura A. Warren, an MD-PhD student at the Donald and Barbara Zucker School of Medicine at Hofstra/Northwell led this research project.
The chronic condition of Endometriosis occurs when endometrial-like tissue from the uterus or womb grows outside the uterus, usually in the abdominal cavity or on internal organs. It is common for patients to experience significant pain and discomfort. It could lead to infertility or the need for a hysterectomy early in life. Late diagnosis of up to 10 years after disease initiation occur because it is confused with other conditions. Surgery is currently required to confirm diagnosis. Early and non-invasive diagnostics could reduce patient suffering and improve long-term outcomes.
The menstrual blood in the biobank of endometriosis patients contained a significantly smaller number of uterine natural killer (uNK) cells compared with healthy participants. It was also observed that endometriosis patient stem cells showed impaired decidualization, a process that normally prepares the uterus from embryo implantation. Reduced uNK cell count and impaired decidualization are being used as markers to develop a non-invasive diagnostic for endometriosis by the scientific team.
“Our women volunteers in ROSE are helping to improve the lives of women across the globe.” – Dr. Gregersen .
- Laura A. Warren, et al. 2018. Analysis of menstrual effluent: diagnostic potential for endometriosis. Molecular Medicine. https://doi.org/10.1186/s10020-018-0009-6