On 30 August 2019 at 14:00 Kadri Rekker will defend her doctoral thesis „The putative role of microRNAs in endometriosis pathogenesis and potential in diagnostics“.
Senior Research Fellow in Genetics Maire Peters
Professor of Obstetrics and Gynaecology Helle Karro
Professor of Reproductive Medicine Andres Salumets
Professor Matts Olovsson (PhD), Department of Women's and Children's Health, Uppsala University, Sweden
Endometriosis is a painful condition in which the endometrium grows outside the uterus usually on the surfaces of pelvic organs. The disease is often accompanied by severe abdominal pain and infertility. Despite the extensive research, the exact reason why the endometrial cells implant and survive in the wrong location is still unclear. Also, the diagnostic options for endometriosis are limited and the only way for definite diagnosis is an invasive surgery. Most recently, microRNAs (miRNAs) have emerged as novel candidate markers for the disease pathogenesis. miRNAs are small RNA molecules that have a regulatory effect on gene expression in both normal physiological and pathological conditions including endometriosis. miRNAs can also be detected in body fluids, making them potential biomarker candidates for the disease diagnostics. The aim of the study was to assess the role of miRNAs in the pathogenesis of endometriosis and to evaluate the suitability of specific miRNAs in blood plasma as endometriosis biomarkers. We showed that plasma miRNA levels are not influenced by the menstrual cycle and certain miRNA levels in blood allow to distinguish women with endometriosis from patients without the disease. However, we discovered several other factors, such as circadian rhythm and individual variability, that influence plasma miRNA levels to an extent that their ability as clinical biomarkers of endometriosis is limited. In addition, a novel approach to analysing miRNAs in endometriotic lesions was applied in this study, where a specific cell population instead of a whole tissue was used. This analysis revealed possible mechanisms that lead to endometriosis-associated pain and infertility.