Repurposing dichloroacetate for the treatment of women with endometriosis

Andrew W. Horne, S. Furquan Ahmad, Roderick Carter, Ioannis Simitsidellis, Erin Greaves, Chloe Hogg, Nicholas M. Morton, Philippa T. K. Saunders

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Endometriosis is a chronic pain condition affecting ∼176 million women worldwide. It is defined by the presence of endometrium-like tissue (lesions) outside the uterus, most commonly on the pelvic peritoneum. There is no cure for endometriosis. All endometriosis drug approvals to date have been contraceptive, limiting their use in women of child-bearing age. We have shown that human peritoneal mesothelial cells (HPMCs) recovered from the pelvic peritoneum of women with endometriosis exhibit significantly higher glycolysis, lower mitochondrial respiration, decreased enzymatic activity of pyruvate dehydrogenase (PDH), and increased production of lactate compared to HPMCs from women without disease. Transforming growth factor-β1 (TGF-β1) is elevated in the peritoneal fluid from women with endometriosis, and exposure of HPMCs to TGF-β1 exacerbates this abnormal phenotype. Treatment of endometriosis HPMCs with the pyruvate dehydrogenase kinase (PDK) inhibitor/PDH activator dichloroacetate (DCA) normalizes HPMC metabolism, reduces lactate secretion, and abrogates endometrial stromal cell proliferation in a coculture model. Oral DCA reduced peritoneal fluid lactate concentrations and endometriosis lesion size in a mouse model. These findings provide the rationale for targeting metabolic processes as a noncontraceptive treatment for women with endometriosis either as a primary nonhormonal treatment or to prevent recurrence after surgery.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)25389-25391
Number of pages3
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences
Issue number51
Early online date2 Dec 2019
Publication statusPublished - 17 Dec 2019


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