Considerable effort has been invested in searching for less invasive methods of diagnosing endometriosis. Previous studies have indicated altered levels of the CALD1 gene (encoding the protein caldesmon) in endometriosis. The aims of our study were to investigate whether average CALD1 expression and caldesmon protein levels are differentially altered in the endometrium and endometriotic lesions and to evaluate the performance of the CALD1 gene and caldesmon protein as potential biomarkers for endometriosis. Paired biopsies of endometrial tissue (eutopic endometrium) and endometriotic lesions (ectopic endometrium) were obtained from patients with endometriosis to evaluate CALD1 gene expression and caldesmon protein levels by real-time PCR and Western blot analysis, respectively. In addition, immunostaining for caldesmon to determine cellular localization was also performed. Endometrium from women without endometriosis was used as a control. Increased CALD1 expression and caldesmon levels were detected in the endometriotic lesions. The electrophoretic profile of caldesmon by Western blot analysis was clearly different between the control group (endometrium of women without endometriosis) and the group of women with endometriosis (eutopic endometrium and endometriotic lesions). Caldesmon expression as determined by immunostaining showed no variation among the cell types in endometriotic lesions and eutopic endometrium. Stromal cells marked positively in eutopic endometrium from control patients and in the endometriotic lesions. The presence of caldesmon in the endometrium of patients with and without endometriosis permitted diagnoses with 95% sensitivity (specificity 100%) and 100% sensitivity (specificity 100%) for the disease and for minimal to mild endometriosis in the proliferative phase of the menstrual cycle, respectively. In the secretory phase, minimal to mild endometriosis was detected with 90% sensitivity and 93.3% specificity. Caldesmon is a possible predictor of endometrial dysregulation in patients with endometriosis. A potential limitation of our study is the fact that other endometrial diseases were not excluded, and therefore prospective studies are needed to confirm the potential of caldesmon as a biomarker exclusively for endometriosis.
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Vol. 88 • No. 5