Natural cytotoxicity and GnRH agonist administration in advanced endometriosis: Positive modulation on natural killer activity

G. Gioele Garzetti, Andrea Ciavattini, Mauro Provinciali, Mario Muzzioli, Giuseppina Di Stefano, Nicola Fabris

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objective: To investigate the effects of pharmacologic suppression of ovarian function on the immune system, with respect to the clinical outcome of endometriosis and the possibility of an immunoendocrine combined treatment. Methods: After informed consent, 25 of 37 patients with revised American Fertility Society stage III and IV endometriosis who underwent postoperative medical treatment were selected and enrolled for this immunoendocrine longitudinal study. Medical treatment consisted of tryptorelinum depot injection, 3.75 mg/month for 24 weeks. Blood samples were collected before the first injection in the early follicular phase, day 2-3 of the cycle, and during medical treatment (every 4 weeks) and follow-up (every 6 months). At the end of the study, we had ten blood samples per patient to evaluate the cytotoxic activity, the number of natural killer cells, and the serum levels of estradiol. Natural killer activity was determined against the K562 cell line by target cell retention of the fluorescent dye carboxyfluorescein diacetate. Results: A positive immunomodulating effect was observed during GnRH agonist administration. In particular, a significant progressive increase in natural killer cell activity was defined within the first 12 weeks of medical treatment; after three injections, we observed the highest values of cytotoxicity, with a median of 7.1 lytic units (range 0.3-14.0; P = .02). Natural cytotoxicity then decreased toward a plateau, which persisted during therapy completation and follow-up, with slight fluctuations. In patients who had recurrence, the values of natural killer cell activity were constantly lower than those in patients with disease-free follow-up, particularly within the first 12 weeks of medical treatment. Conclusion: This study showed a positive modulation of natural killer cell activity during the first 12 weeks of GnRH agonist treatment in patients with advanced endometriosis. In particular, a relationship was suggested between natural cytotoxicity and clinical outcome.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)234-240
Number of pages7
JournalObstetrics and Gynecology
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Aug 1996

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Obstetrics and Gynaecology


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