Naturally Occurring Plant Product May Hold Promise for the Treatment of Endometriosis

Naturally Occurring Plant Product May Hold Promise for the Treatment of Endometriosis

Researchers in Korea have shown that a compound found in parsley, apples, and grapes might have therapeutic properties against endometriosis.

Key Points


  • Apigenin, a natural plant compound found in parsley, apples, and grapes could be a potential new treatment for endometriosis.


  • Apigenin suppresses the development of endometriosis through activation of integrated intracellular signaling pathways.
  • If developed further, this could overcome the current limitation in the treatment of endometriosis

What’s done here:

  •  Researchers treated human endometriosis cells grown in the laboratory with apigenin.

 Key results:

Apigenin treatment resulted in:

  • a reduction in cellular proliferation/cell cycle arrest
  • Induction of programmed cell death via both mitochondria (the energy factories of the cells) and ROS-dependent pathways:
    • Mitochondrial pathway, by an increase in the proteins involved, disrupting the mitochondrial membrane potential and an increase in calcium ions which are initiators of this process, and
    • Accumulation of excessive reactive oxygen species inside the cells and lipid peroxidation (the oxidative degradation of fat molecules) to abolish their effect on mitochondrial function


  • The experiments are only conducted in cells grown in the laboratory. A lot more research is needed before the compound can be considered as a potential therapy for women with endometriosis.

Lay Summary

A natural plant product called apigenin might be a potential new treatment for endometriosis according to a study published in the Journal of Cell Physiology.

“ […] Apigenin is a potential novel therapeutic agent to overcome current limitations in the treatment to endometriosis,” the researchers wrote but added that further research using animal models are required before apigenin can be considered for the treatment of endometriosis patients.

Apigenin is a compound found in several fruits and vegetables such as parsley, apples, and grapes. It has properties that block cell proliferation, inflammation, and the formation of new blood vessel, a biological event that is crucial for the development of cancer. The compound could therefore potently be used for the treatment of several diseases including diabetes, cardiovascular disease, the neuronal disease, and cancer.

A team of researchers led by Dr. Gwonhwa SongIn at Korea University in Seoul tested the role of apigenin for the potential treatment of endometriosis using two well-established human endometriosis cell lines grown in the laboratory.

When they treated the cells with apigenin, the researchers saw that cell proliferation was reduced, and the cell cycle was arrested. Apigenin also induced programmed cell death in both cell lines.

When they analyzed the cells treated with apigenin in more detail, the researchers saw that the compound disrupted the membrane potential of mitochondria, the energy factories of the cells, which was accompanied by an increase in the concentration of calcium ions inside the cells. They also saw an increase in proteins involved in programmed cell death. Finally, the researchers found that apigenin led to the accumulation of excessive reactive oxygen species inside the cells, which are toxic to the cells, lipid peroxidation, or the oxidative degradation of fat molecules, and endoplasmic reticulum stress. 

The researchers found that apigenin induces programmed cell death in these endometriosis cells via biological pathways called the ERK1/2, JNK, and AKT pathways. 

It is important to note that these experiments have only been conducted in cells grown in the laboratory and further research testing the compound in animal models of endometriosis are needed to fully discover its potential therapeutic properties.  

Research Source:

apigenin potential treatment cell culture


EndoNews highlights the latest peer-reviewed scientific research and medical literature that focuses on endometriosis. We are unbiased in our summaries of recently-published endometriosis research. EndoNews does not provide medical advice or opinions on the best form of treatment. We highly stress the importance of not using EndoNews as a substitute for seeking an experienced physician.