Resveratrol, a natural substance present in many edible plants, is able to lower the levels of two enzymes, MMP-2 and MMP-9, which have been implicated in the development of endometriosis and associated infertility, an exploratory trial suggests.
The compound has anti-inflammatory properties that may have therapeutic effects for women with endometriosis, but more studies are needed to confirm this claim, the authors caution.
The study, “The modulating effects of Resveratrol on the expression of MMP-2 and MMP-9 in endometriosis women: a randomized exploratory trial,” was published in the journal Gynecological Endocrinology.
Endometriosis is an inflammatory disease marked by an overactivation of matrix metalloproteinases (MMPs), a group of enzymes that break down several proteins that make up the extracellular matrix, a network outside cells that provides support to cells and tissues.
MMPs play an important part in the organ’s development and tissue turnover but normally are not very active in adult tissues.
However, their activity can increase significantly in various disorders such as endometriosis, where they have been associated with the failure of embryo implantation after cycles of assisted reproduction technology (ART).
Two MMPs, MMP-2 and MMP-9, in particular, have been linked to this effect.
Resveratrol, a compound naturally occurring in plants such as grapes, blueberries, raspberries, and peanuts, is able to inhibit MMP-2 and MMP-9 and has shown signs of preventing the formation of endometriotic lesions in some studies.
The compound is also sold as a supplement and used as a medicine for high cholesterol, cancer, heart disease, and many other conditions, although there is no solid evidence to support its use for these issues.
A team of researchers at the Tehran University of Medical Sciences in Iran have now investigated the effects of resveratrol on the levels of MMP-2 and MMP-9 in endometriosis patients.
They carried out an exploratory clinical trial, which included 34 patients who had endometriosis-associated infertility. They randomly divided 17 participants into a control group given a placebo and 17 into a treatment group given 400 mg of Resveratrol for 12 to 14 weeks.
Results showed that the levels of both MMP-2 and MMP-9 significantly dropped in the endometrium tissue as well as in the endometrium fluid and blood of women treated with resveratrol, compared with the control group.
The blood and endometrial fluid levels of both MMP-2 and MMP-9 were lower following the surgical removal of endometrial lesions.
“We showed that Resveratrol can modify the inflammation process in the endometrium of women with endometriosis at least in the level of MMP-2 and -9 expressions,” the researchers wrote. “All participants in this study were infertile women with endometriosis stages III and IV, which may limit the generalization of the findings to all women with endometriosis.”
“The therapeutic potency of Resveratrol in endometriosis needs more clinical studies,” they concluded.