The selective vitamin D receptor agonist, elocalcitol, reduces endometriosis development in a mouse model by inhibiting peritoneal inflammation

Margherita Mariani, Paola Vigan, Davide Gentilini, Barbara Camisa, Elvira Caporizzo, Pietro Di Lucia, Antonella Monno, Massimo Candiani, Edgardo Somigliana, Paola Panina-Bordignon

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background Endometriosis, which is characterized by the growth of endometrial tissue at ectopic locations as well as vascular development and inflammation, is still an unmet clinical need since an optimal drug that allows for both pain and infertility management does not exist. Since both the eutopic and the ectopic endometrium express the vitamin D receptor (VDR), and VDR agonists are endowed with anti-proliferative and anti-inflammatory properties, we evaluated the effect of elocalcitol, a VDR agonist with low calcaemic liability, in a mouse model of experimentally induced endometriosis. Methods AND RESULTSEndometriosis was induced by injection of syngeneic endometrial tissue fragments into adult Balb/c female mice. After having confirmed by immunohistochemistry that endometriotic lesions developing in mice expressed VDR, the mice were administered with elocalcitol (100 μg/kg) or vehicle orally, once a day, for various durations of time. In this model, elocalcitol was able to reduce total lesion weight up to 70 upon treatment for 1 week before and 2 weeks after disease induction. Interestingly, a therapeutic effect was also observed on already established lesions. Elocalcitol was shown to reduce the capacity of mouse endometrial cells to adhere to collagen. In addition in treated mice, a decreased state of peritoneal inflammation was demonstrated by the inhibition of macrophage recruitment and inflammatory cytokine secretion. Conclusions The VDR agonist elocalcitol inhibits lesion development in a validated mouse model of endometriosis, and exerts a protective effect on both the implantation and organization of transferred endometrial tissue. These preliminary data in mice provide a sound rationale for further testing in primate models and eventually in humans.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2010-2019
Number of pages10
JournalHuman Reproduction
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2012


  • endometriosis
  • inflammation
  • vitamin D receptor agonist

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Rehabilitation
  • Obstetrics and Gynaecology
  • Reproductive Medicine


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