Pelvic pain correlates with peritoneal macrophage abundance not endometriosis

Douglas A Gibson, Frances Collins, Bianca De Leo, Andrew W Horne, Philippa T K Saunders

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract / Description of output

Endometriosis is a chronic neuroinflammatory pain condition affecting ~180 million women worldwide. Surgical removal or hormonal suppression of endometriosis lesions only relieves pain symptoms in some women and symptomatic relapse following treatment is common. Identifying factors that contribute to pain is key to developing new therapies. We collected peritoneal fluid samples and clinical data from a cohort of women receiving diagnostic laparoscopy for suspected endometriosis (n=52). Peritoneal fluid immune cells were analysed by flow cytometry and data compared with pain scores determined using the pain domain of the Endometriosis Health Profile Questionnaire (EHP-30) in order to investigate the association between peritoneal immune cells and pain symptoms. Pain scores were not different between women with or without endometriosis, nor did they differ according to disease stage; consistent with a poor association between disease presentation and pain symptoms. However, linear regression and correlation analysis demonstrated that peritoneal macrophage abundance correlated with severity of pelvic pain. CD14high peritoneal macrophages negatively correlated with pain scores whereas CD14low peritoneal macrophages were positively correlated, independent of diagnostic outcome at laparoscopy. Stratification by pain subtype, rather than endometriosis diagnosis, resulted in the most robust correlation between pain and macrophage adundance. Pain score strongly correlated with CD14high (p=0.007) and CD14low (p=0.008) macrophages in patients with non-menstrual pain and also in patients who reported dysmennorhea (CD14high p=0.021, CD14low p=0.019) or dysparunia (CD14high p=0.027, CD14low p=0.031). These results provide new insight into the association between peritoneal macrophages and pelvic pain which may aid identification of future therapeutic targets.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)47-57
JournalReproduction & Fertility
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 23 Mar 2021


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