Gut microbiota and endometriosis

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There is a lot of interest in research about the effect of the gut microbiota on our health. The gut microbiota is the collection of microorganisms that live in the human gastrointestinal tract. The “intestinal bacteria play a crucial role in maintaining immune and metabolic homeostasis and protecting against pathogens” and “altered gut bacterial composition (dysbiosis) has been associated with the pathogenesis of many inflammatory diseases and infections” (Thursby & Juge, 2017).

Xu et al. (2017) note that: 

“Gut microbiota can interact with the central nervous system through the gut–brain axis, thus affecting the host’s chronic stress level, such as anxiety and depression. Current researches show that patients with endometriosis often have a high level of chronic stress, which will in turn aggravate endometriosis by activating the β-adrenergic signaling pathway…. We found that in patients with endometriosis, the dysbiosis of gut microbiota was associated with their stress levels. Furthermore, the levels of ParaprevotellaOdoribacterVeillonella, and Ruminococcus were significantly reduced in chronic stressed endometriosis patients, suggestive of a disease-specific change of gut microbiota at the genus level. Compared to the healthy women, the expression levels of inflammatory cytokines, nuclear factor-κB p65, and cyclooxygenase-2 increased in the chronic stressed endometriosis patients, indicating that the dysbiosis of gut microbiota may activate the inflammatory pathway of gut–brain axis.” 

Perrotta et al. (2020), while exploring the gut and vaginal microbiota of people with endometriosis, found that “vaginal microbiome may predict stage of disease when endometriosis is present”. That is pretty specific microbiota! It is not clear whether the inflammation from endometriosis causes changes to the gut microbiota and/or the gut microbiota increases inflammation associated with endometriosis (or both). However, Bolte et al. (2021) found that: 

“Higher intake of animal foods, processed foods, alcohol and sugar, corresponds to a microbial environment that is characteristic of inflammation, and is associated with higher levels of intestinal inflammatory markers…. Modulation of gut microbiota through diets enriched in vegetables, legumes, grains, nuts and fish and a higher intake of plant over animal foods, has a potential to prevent intestinal inflammatory processes at the core of many chronic diseases.”  

This suggests that a healthy diet may help improve the gut microbiota and potentially inflammation. It is not known whether this would have a significant impact on symptoms experienced.  

References 

Bolte, L. A., Vila, A. V., Imhann, F., Collij, V., Gacesa, R., Peters, V., … & Weersma, R. K. (2021). Long-term dietary patterns are associated with pro-inflammatory and anti-inflammatory features of the gut microbiome. Gut70(7), 1287-1298. Retrieved from   https://gut.bmj.com/content/70/7/1287  

Perrotta, A. R., Borrelli, G. M., Martins, C. O., Kallas, E. G., Sanabani, S. S., Griffith, L. G., … & Abrao, M. S. (2020). The vaginal microbiome as a tool to predict rASRM stage of disease in endometriosis: a pilot study. Reproductive Sciences27(4), 1064-1073. Retrieved from https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s43032-019-00113-5 

Thursby, E., & Juge, N. (2017). Introduction fo the human gut flora. Biochem J474(11), 1823-1836. doi: 10.1042/BCJ20160510 

Xu, J., Li, K., Zhang, L., Liu, Q. Y., Huang, Y. K., Kang, Y., & Xu, C. J. (2017). Dysbiosis of gut microbiota contributes to chronic stress in endometriosis patients via activating inflammatory pathway. Reproductive and Developmental Medicine1(4), 221. Retrieved from https://www.repdevmed.org/article.asp?issn=2096-2924;year=2017;volume=1;issue=4;spage=221;epage=227;aulast=Xu