Endometriosis is a common, often painful, condition that has significant implications for a woman’s fertility. Classically, endometriosis has been conceptualized as a local estrogen-mediated uterine condition driven by retrograde menstruation. However, recent work suggests that endometriosis may be a systemic condition modulated, if not driven, by prenatal processes. Although a diverse array of factors have been associated with endometriosis pathophysiology, recent data indicate that the low body mass index and decreased adipogenesis may be indicative of an early developmental etiology with alterations in metabolic function crucial to endometriosis pathoetiology.
The present article reviews the data on the pathoetiology and pathophysiology of endometriosis, suggesting key roles for alterations in mitochondria functioning across a number of cell types and body systems, including the immune system and gut microbiome. These changes are importantly regulated by decreases in vitamin A and its retinoic acid metabolites as well as increases in mitochondria estrogen receptor-beta and the N-acetylserotonin/melatonin ratio across development. This has treatment and future research implications for this still poorly managed condition, as well as for the association of endometriosis with a number of cancers.