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MDPI, International Journal of Molecular Sciences, 10(23), p. 5539, 2022

DOI: 10.3390/ijms23105539



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The Promises of Natural Killer Cell Therapy in Endometriosis

This paper is made freely available by the publisher.
This paper is made freely available by the publisher.

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Endometriosis is a gynaecological disease defined by the growth of endometrium-like tissue outside the uterus. The disease is present in approximately 5–10% of women of reproductive age and causes pelvic pain and infertility. The pathophysiology is not completely understood, but retrograde menstruation and deficiency in natural killer (NK) cells that clear endometriotic cells in the peritoneal cavity play an important role. Nowadays, hormonal therapy and surgery to remove endometriosis lesions are used as treatment. However, these therapies do not work for all patients, and hormonal therapy prevents patients from getting pregnant. Therefore, new treatment strategies should be developed. Since the cytotoxicity of NK cells is decreased in endometriosis, we performed a literature search into the possibility of NK cell therapy. Available treatment options include the inhibition of receptor–ligand interaction for KIR2DL1, NKG2A, LILRB1/2, and PD-1/PD-L1; inhibition of TGF-β; stimulation of NK cells with IL-2; and mycobacterial treatment with BCG. In preclinical work, these therapies show promising results but unfortunately have side effects, which have not specifically been studied in endometriosis patients. Before NK cell treatment can be used in the clinic, more research is needed.