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Toward a diagnostic blood test for endometriosis

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Endometriosis is a chronic, often painful disease affecting up to 10 percent of women of reproductive age in the U.S. How it develops is not well understood, and detecting it with certainty requires surgery. But now, scientists report in ACS' Journal of Proteome Research new insight gained from their study on mice that could ultimately help diagnose the condition with a blood test.

Endometriosis occurs when tissue that normally lines the inside of the uterus grows outside of it. Even when it's displaced, the tissue acts as if it's in the uterus, thickening, breaking down and bleeding with a woman's menstrual cycle. To confirm whether a woman has endometriosis, a surgeon has to perform laparoscopic surgery that involves inserting a lighted tube to look inside the abdomen. Research suggests that the condition is related to a change in lipid metabolism. Mainak Dutta and colleagues wanted to find out whether endometriosis has a specific lipid profile that might lead to a less invasive diagnostic test.

The researchers performed a metabolomics analysis, testing blood samples from a group of mice with the disorder and from a control group. Mice with endometriosis had a lipid profile distinct from the control animals. Although further work would be needed to validate the results in humans, the study suggests that a simple blood test along with other clinical indicators could potentially be used to diagnose the disease, the researchers say.

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The authors acknowledge funding from Sigma Xi and a Fulbright-Nehru Doctoral Research Fellowship.

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