Endometriosis is a disease in which tissue that normally grows inside the uterus grows outside the uterus. It is one of the most common gynecological diseases, and its primary symptoms include pain and infertility due to the growth of the tissue outside of the uterus. These tissue lesions are believed to grow and persist because of harmful changes to the immune system.
Statins are a group of drugs commonly used to lower cholesterol in patients with increased risk of heart problems. Because statins have an anti-inflammatory effect, scientists have considered whether statins might be helpful for patients with endometriosis.
Researchers funded by the Fertility and Infertility Branch conducted two series of experiments—one in mice and one using human tissues in a laboratory—to assess whether statins have an effect on endometrial tissue.
The results showed that statins inhibited a specific immune system protein called MCP-1 that is thought to be involved in the establishment and persistence of endometriosis. Although more research is needed, the findings indicate that scientists should consider further studies to investigate whether statins could be used to treat endometriosis (PMID: 22267540).