Differential expression of steroidogenic enzymes according to endometriosis type

In endometriosis, local activation of estrogens appears to be important. Steroid sulfatase and 17b-hydroxysteroid dehydrogenase type 1 inhibitors may therefore prove useful to treat the disease.


Sébastien Colette, Ph.D., Sylvie Defrère, Ph.D., Olivier Van Kerk, B.Sc., Anne Van Langendonckt, Ph.D., Marie-Madeleine Dolmans, M.D., Ph.D., Jacques Donnez, M.D., Ph.D.

Volume 100, Issue 6, Pages 1642-1649, December 2013



To evaluate, in peritoneal, ovarian, and rectovaginal endometriotic lesions, expression of steroidogenic enzymes involved in the activation and inactivation of estrogens: 17β-hydroxysteroid dehydrogenase type 1 (HSD17B1) and 2 (HSD17B2), estrone sulfotransferase (EST), and steroid sulfatase (STS).


Academic gynecology research unit.


Retrospective study.


Disease-free (n = 41) patients and patients with endometriosis (n = 79) were included for quantitative polymerase chain reaction (q-PCR) (15 disease-free, 33 endometriosis) and immunohistochemistry (26 disease-free, 46 endometriosis) studies.


Q-PCR and immunohistochemistry.

Main Outcome Measure(s):

Evaluation of mRNA and protein expression.


Glandular HSD17B1, HSD17B2, and STS protein expression were demonstrated. HSD17B2 mRNA values were higher in the secretory phase of the menstrual cycle in the endometrium of disease-free women, but not in the eutopic endometrium of patients with endometriosis. HSD17B1 mRNA was equally expressed in the various tissues investigated, and EST mRNA was expressed at low levels in the different lesion types. HSD17B2 mRNA expression was decreased in ovarian and rectovaginal endometriosis compared with eutopic endometrium, while STS mRNA was increased in rectovaginal lesions compared with ovarian lesions. Ratios between pro- and antiestrogenic enzymes (STS/EST and HSD17B1/HSD17B2) were more in favor of estrogens in ovarian and rectovaginal endometriosis.


In endometriosis development, local activation of estrogens appears to be important. STS and HSD17B1 inhibitors may therefore prove useful to treat the disease.

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