Could this be true for humans - that antibiotics can treat endometriosis? A nicely done series of studies found that treatment with the antibiotic metronidazole reduced both early growth and progression of endometrial lesions. Also, the researchers found microbiome (community of microbes) differences in endometriosis vs healthy subjects. The researchers felt that the research results suggest that gut bacteria promote endometriosis progression, and that the antibiotics worked to stop the progression of endometriosis because it reduced specific gut bacteria.
Endometriosis is a chronic condition causing abdominal pain and infertility and afflicts up to 10% of women between the ages of 25 and 40. Unfortunately, current treatments , including hormone therapy and surgery, have serious side effects and do not prevent recurrences. So a study finding another treatment approach is exciting. But...before everyone gets too excited, keep in mind that the series of studies were done in mice, but... the researchers of the study are optimistic that this could be true for women also. And yes, the Washington University School of Medicine (in St. Louis, Missouri) researchers are going to conduct a large clinical trial to test the antibiotic metronidazole in women with endometriosis.
From Medical Xpress: Antibiotics may treat endometriosis
Researchers at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis have found, in mice, that treatment with an antibiotic reduces the size of lesions caused by endometriosis. The researchers are planning a large, multicenter clinical trial to test the drug metronidazole in women who have the painful condition.
Endometriosis is a chronic problem for up to 10 percent of women ages 25 to 40. About 5 million women in the United States and an estimated 176 million women worldwide are believed to be affected. The condition results from uterine cells migrating upward into the stomach area, where those cells clump together to form lesions. In addition to pain, endometriosis often contributes to fertility problems. Current treatment strategies include hormone therapy and surgery, but both approaches involve significant side effects and recurrence after treatment.
Studying mice, the researchers found that treating the animals with metronidazole reduced the size of endometriosis-related lesions in the gut. That was true whether treatment was started before the lesions began forming or after endometriosis already was well-established. The findings also suggest that bacteria in the gut microbiome may help drive, or prevent, progression of the disease.
Scientists already knew that young women and girls with increased susceptibility to inflammatory bowel disease were more likely to develop endometriosis. The researchers in the new study found that some of the gut microbes linked to bowel problems also feature prominently in endometriosis. When they treated the mice with the broad-spectrum antibiotic metronidazole, the lesions became smaller. Inflammation also was reduced.
Interestingly, other antibiotics tested in the study—ampicillin, neomycin and vancomycin—did not lessen inflammation or shrink lesions. In addition, Kommagani's team found that levels of a protective type of gut bacteria were very low in the mice with endometriosis, so they believe that in addition to antibiotics, it may be possible to use probiotics to boost levels of protective bacteria.