Date of Award


Document Type

Open Access Thesis


Biological Sciences

First Advisor

Holly A LaVoie


Endometriosis is a complex, multifactorial, reproductive disorder present in approximately 10-15% of adult women between the ages of 25-35. This disorder occurs when endometrial glands and stroma grow ectopically on the surface of the ovaries, pelvic peritoneum, fallopian tubes, and the uterus. Endometriosis causes varying degrees of painful symptoms and infertility in infected individuals. Three main theories of endometrial accumulation attempt to explain the etiology of this elusive disease. There have been various staging of endometriosis symptoms that attempt to standardize classification as well as predict pain and infertility. Angiogenesis, necessary to the survival of endometrial tissue, along with immune dysfunction and evasion have been examined as possible contributing factors to the development of endometriosis. Certain angiogenic factors are upregulated in ectopic endometrial tissue and endometriotic lesions, while decreased cytotoxicity of T cells is shown to be an abnormal immune process observed in individuals with this disorder. Other factors including exposure to environmental toxicants, diet, and population specific polymorphisms have also been examined for their role in this disease. While various genetic variations have been identified as increased risk factors of endometriosis in certain populations, there has not been a specific genotype that demonstrates increased risk for this disease in all populations. Two endometriosis-induced animal models, which include rodents and non-human

primates, are primarily responsible for the advancement of our understanding of this disease. Although limitations exist for animal models, they have been an important contributor to current research. There is no cure for endometriosis, but various treatment options exist for both pain and infertility. The purpose of this thesis is to review current literature relevant to the etiology, development, and treatment of endometriosis.