Autophagy, proteolysis and Endometriosis

Autophagy, proteolysis and Endometriosis

The implication of autophagy-related genes in women with endometriosis.

Key Points


  • The expression and function of two autophagy marker proteins, namely "Microtubule-associated protein light chain 3 (LC3)" and "Beclin1", and a "matrix metalloproteinase-2 (MMP-2)", collagenase that has the capacity to exert enzymolysis and proteolysis, thus invading the peritoneum, were investigated in the serum, peritoneal fluid, and endometrial tissues of women with endometriosis, to assess their role and to provide new targets for endometriosis management.


  • While the relationship between autophagy and numerous diseases has been studied, the authors of this publication state there is no report analyzing the relationship between endometriosis and autophagy-related genes till date.

What’s done here?

  • Participants: 42 patients with endometriosis, 42 patients without endometriosis (non-endometriosis group).
  • Specimen collected: peripheral venous blood, peritoneal fluid, and endometrial tissue (a small amount of proliferative stage endometrium).
  • ELISA technique was used to detect expression levels, and RT-qPCR technique was used to detect mRNA expression. The data was subject to statistical analysis.

Key results:

  • Serum expression levels: LC3 and Beclin1 decreased in Endometriosis group;  while MMP-2 – increased.
  • In peritoneal fluid: LC3 and Beclin1 decreased in Endometriosis group;  while MMP-2 – increased.
  • mRNA expression levels in endometrial tissue: LC3 and Beclin1 decreased in Endometriosis group;  while MMP-2 – increased.

Lay Summary

Sui et al., a group of researchers from the Qiqihar Medical University and Qilu Hospital of Shandong University, recently published in Experimental and Therapeutic Medicine. The piece titled “Expression and significance of autophagy genes LC3, Beclin1 and MMP-2 in endometriosis” analyzed the expression levels of two autophagy-related proteins, microtubule-associated protein light chain 3 (LC3) and Beclin1, and matrix metalloproteinase-2 (MMP-2) in women with and without endometriosis.

Matrix metalloproteinase-2 (MMP-2)", is a collagenase with the capacity to exert enzymolysis and proteolysis, thus invading the peritoneum. The autophagy-related genes LC3 and Beclin1 help to eliminate and degrade the damaged organelles by using the lysosomes of the cells under the state of stress for maintaining the cellular environmental homeostasis. The authors state that at present, there are only a few reports on the correlation of occurrence of endometriosis with LC3 and Beclin1.

Women with endometriosis had lower levels of LC3 and Beclin1 in their serum and peritoneal fluid but had higher levels of MMP-2. Similarly, women with endometriosis also had decreased mRNA expression of LC3 and Beclin1 and increased mRNA expression of MMP-2.

The authors suggest that these three genes can be used as diagnostic biomarkers for endometriosis, and also may provide new ideas for an effective treatment.

Research Source:

autophagy proteins MMP-2 Beclin1 LC3 ELISA RT-qPCR endometriosis proteolysis enzymolysis


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