Uterine fibroids are the most common, non-cancerous tumors in women of childbearing age. Symptoms often include pelvic pain, infertility, or heavy menstrual bleeding. Women who experience more severe symptoms of uterine fibroids are often faced with hysterectomy as their only treatment option.
To develop alternative treatment methods, researchers in the Program on Reproductive and Adult Endocrinology, within the Division of Intramural Research, studied the effects of the drug liarozole on genes known to create the fibrosis that is the main cause of fibroid symptoms. Liarozole is effective in treating the skin diseases ichthyosis and psoriasis; it does so by blocking a particular metabolic pathway known to affect cell growth and differentiation. Prior studies suggested that fibroids could be particularly susceptible to treatments like liarozole.
Scientists found that treatment of fibroid cells with liarozole decreased the function of important fibrosis genes. When administered at pharmacologic concentrations, liarozole decreased the ability of fibroid cells to multiply and decreased genes involved in creating the fibrosis involved in symptoms.
These results provide evidence that liarozole or similar compounds may be effective therapies for women who experience moderate to severe symptoms of fibroids (PMID: 22925684).