Intrafollicular inflammatory cytokines but not steroid hormone concentrations are increased in naturally matured follicles of women with proven endometriosis.J Assist Reprod Genet. 2017 Mar; 34(3):357-364.JA
The aim of this study was to assess whether the intrafollicular cytokine profile in naturally developed follicles is different in women with endometriosis, possibly explaining the lower reproductive outcome in endometriosis patients.
A matched case-control study was conducted at a university-based infertility and endometriosis centre. The study population included 17 patients with laparoscopically and histologically confirmed endometriosis (rAFS stages II-IV), each undergoing one natural cycle IVF (NC-IVF) treatment cycle between 2013 and 2015, and 17 age-matched NC-IVF women without diagnosed endometriosis (control group). Follicular fluid and serum was collected at the time of follicle aspiration. The concentrations of inflammatory cytokines (IL-1β, IL-6, IL-8, IL-15, IL-18, TNF-α) and hormones (testosterone, estradiol, AMH) were determined in follicular fluid and serum by single or multiplexed immunoassay and compared between both groups.
In the follicular fluid, IL-1β and IL-6 showed significantly (P < 0.001 and 0.01, respectively) higher median concentrations in the endometriosis group than in the control group and a tendency towards endometriosis severity (rAFS stage) dependence. The levels of the interleukins detectable in follicular fluid were significantly higher than those in the serum (P < 0.01). Follicular estradiol concentration was lower in severe endometriosis patients than in the control group (P = 0.036). Follicular fluid IL-1β and IL-6 levels were not correlated with estradiol in the same compartment in neither patient group.
In women with moderate and severe endometrioses, some intrafollicular inflammatory cytokines are upregulated and not correlated with intrafollicular hormone concentrations. This might be due to the inflammatory microenvironment in endometriosis women, affecting follicular function and thereby possibly contributing to the reproductive dysfunction in endometriosis.