Endometriosis is a condition whereby patches of the inner lining of the womb appear in parts of the body other than the womb cavity. It can cause severe pain and affects approximately 15% of women of reproductive age. Endometriosis is also associated with infertility, with 50% of infertile women affected by the condition.
Researchers discovered that an enzyme, called telomerase, is released by cells in the inner lining of the womb during the latter stages of the menstrual cycle in women who are affected by endometriosis. Telomerase is not commonly found in the cells that make up the body, but is uniquely found in the inner lining of the womb and in some special cells, such as sperm and egg cells. The enzyme is also found in cancer cells and is thought to be responsible for replicating DNA sequences during cell division in chromosomes.
Dr Dharani Hapangama, from the University’s Department of Reproductive and Developmental Medicine, explains: “Endometriosis occurs when cells of the inner lining of the womb are found growing outside of the uterus. At the time of a woman’s menstruation cycle these cells, called endometrial cells, are shed and can be expelled into the abdominal cavity. If these cells continue to live and are implanted in the pelvis and abdomen it can cause severe pain and in serious cases can lead to infertility.
“We found the telomere – a region at the end of all chromosomes that prevents the chromosome destroying itself during cell division – is abnormally long in women with endometriosis. During menstruation telomeres normally shorten in length with each cycle of cell division until they reach a certain length at which they can no longer divide. An enzyme called telomerase can extend the length of the telomeres so that they can continue to divide and this can happen in some special cells such as sperm and egg cells, but not normally in cells that make up the organs of the body.
“Our research shows, however, that cells in the lining of the womb are unique in that they can express this enzyme in the early stages of the menstrual cycle when cell division is important, but not during the latter stages when implantation of the fertilised embryo becomes a priority.
“Women who have endometriosis express this enzyme in both the early and late stages of the menstrual cycle which means that the cells will continue to divide and lose their ‘focus’ in supporting the establishment of a pregnancy. As a result the lining of the womb may be more hostile to an early pregnancy, and the cells that are shed at this late stage in the menstrual cycle may be more ‘aggressive’ and more able to survive and implant outside the uterus, causing pain in the pelvic or abdomen area.”
The research, published in Human Reproduction, will help scientists develop new techniques for diagnosing and treating the condition.
Immune Defense Without Collateral Damage
23.01.2017 | Universität Basel
The interactome of infected neural cells reveals new therapeutic targets for Zika
23.01.2017 | D'Or Institute for Research and Education
For the first time ever, a cloud of ultra-cold atoms has been successfully created in space on board of a sounding rocket. The MAIUS mission demonstrates that quantum optical sensors can be operated even in harsh environments like space – a prerequi-site for finding answers to the most challenging questions of fundamental physics and an important innovation driver for everyday applications.
According to Albert Einstein's Equivalence Principle, all bodies are accelerated at the same rate by the Earth's gravity, regardless of their properties. This...
An important step towards a completely new experimental access to quantum physics has been made at University of Konstanz. The team of scientists headed by...
Yersiniae cause severe intestinal infections. Studies using Yersinia pseudotuberculosis as a model organism aim to elucidate the infection mechanisms of these...
Researchers from the University of Hamburg in Germany, in collaboration with colleagues from the University of Aarhus in Denmark, have synthesized a new superconducting material by growing a few layers of an antiferromagnetic transition-metal chalcogenide on a bismuth-based topological insulator, both being non-superconducting materials.
While superconductivity and magnetism are generally believed to be mutually exclusive, surprisingly, in this new material, superconducting correlations...
Laser-driving of semimetals allows creating novel quasiparticle states within condensed matter systems and switching between different states on ultrafast time scales
Studying properties of fundamental particles in condensed matter systems is a promising approach to quantum field theory. Quasiparticles offer the opportunity...
19.01.2017 | Event News
10.01.2017 | Event News
09.01.2017 | Event News
23.01.2017 | Health and Medicine
23.01.2017 | Physics and Astronomy
23.01.2017 | Process Engineering