Epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition in the development of endometriosis

Yan-Meng Yang and Wan-Xi Yang _

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Oncotarget. 2017; 8:41679-41689. https://doi.org/10.18632/oncotarget.16472

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Yan-Meng Yang1 and Wan-Xi Yang1

1 The Sperm Laboratory, College of Life Sciences, Zhejiang University, Hangzhou, China

Correspondence to:

Wan-Xi Yang, email:

Keywords: epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition, endometriosis, infertility

Received: January 25, 2017 Accepted: March 11, 2017 Published: March 22, 2017


Endometriosis, an estrogen-dependent chronic gynecological disease, is common in reproductive-age women and profoundly affects their life quality. Although various pathogenic theories have been proposed, the origin of endometriosis remains unclear. Epithelial to mesenchymal transition (EMT) is a process that epithelial cells lose polarized organization of the cytoskeleton and cell-to-cell contacts, acquiring the high motility of mesenchymal cells. These changes are thought to be prerequisites for the original establishment of endometriotic lesions. However, no study exactly indicates which type of EMT occurs in endometriosis. In this review, we conclude that two different types of EMT may participate in this disease. Besides, two stimulating signals, hypoxia and estrogen, can through different pathways to activate the EMT process in endometriosis. Those pathways involve many cellular factors such as TGF-beta and Wnt, ultimately leading to cell proliferation and migration. As infertility is becoming a serious and intractable issue for women, EMT, during the implantation process, is gaining attention. In this review, we will describe the known functions of EMT in endometriosis, and suggest further studies that may aid in the development of medical therapy.

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