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Papers of the Week

Papers: 21 Jan 2023 - 3 Feb 2023

2023 Jan 13

Int J Mol Sci



Endometriosis and Opioid Receptors: Are Opioids a Possible/Promising Treatment for Endometriosis?


Guan Q, Velho R V, Sehouli J, Mechsner S
Int J Mol Sci. 2023 Jan 13; 24(2).
PMID: 36675147.


Endometriosis (EM), defined as the presence of endometrial-like tissue with surrounding smooth muscle cells outside the uterus, is a disregarded gynecological disease reported to affect 6-10% of women of reproductive age, with 30-50% of them suffering from chronic pelvic pain and infertility. Since the exact pathogenic mechanisms of EM are still unclear, no curative therapy is available. As pain is an important factor in EM, optimal analgesia should be sought, which to date has been treated primarily with non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), metamizole or, in extreme cases, opioids. Here, we review the pain therapy options, the mechanisms of pain development in EM, the endogenous opioid system and pain, as well as the opioid receptors and EM-associated pain. We also explore the drug abuse and addiction to opioids and the possible use of NOP receptors in terms of analgesia and improved tolerability as a target for EM-associated pain treatment. Emerging evidence has shown a promising functional profile of bifunctional NOP/MOP partial agonists as safe and nonaddictive analgesics. However, until now, the role of NOP receptors in EM has not been investigated. This review offers a thought which still needs further investigation but may provide potential options for relieving EM-associated pain.