Plasma urocortin levels may help diagnose ovarian endometriosis

12 September 2007

Italian researchers have found that plasma urocortin is increased in women with endometrioma and may be a useful measurement for distinguishing between endometrioma and other benign ovarian cysts. Is it better than CA125?

Pasquale Florio, from the University of Siena in Italy, and colleagues speculate that urocortin secretion is part of the host response against ectopic endometrium implantation. They found that elevated plasma urocortin levels detected 88 percent of women with endometrioma with 90 percent specificity, whereas CA125 detected just 65 percent of cases at the same specificity.

Urocortin is a neuropeptide, member of the corticotropin-releasing hormone family, that is produced by the human endometrium.

The researchers used radioimmunoassay to measure plasma urocortin in 40 women with ovarian endometrioma and 40 women with benign, non-endometriotic ovarian cysts. Urocortin levels were twice as high in women with endometrioma, at 49 pg/ml compared with 19 pg/ml in women in the control group.

Women with endometrioma had significantly higher urocortin levels in the cystic content of their endometrioma than in the peritoneal fluid and plasma, with localisation in the endometrial glands and stromal capillary vessels. This suggests that it may be secreted by endometriotic tissue.

The researchers conclude that urocortin is an effective marker for diagnosing endometrioma. They also recommend further research to investigate whether the urocortin level is altered in women with ovarian cancer.

“If it is not, then urocortin could be more specific than CA125 in distinguishing between malignant and benign conditions,” they say.


Florio P, Reis FM, Torres PB, Calonaci F, Toti P, Bocchi C, Linton EA, Petraglia F. Plasma Urocortin Levels in the Diagnosis of Ovarian Endometriosis. Obstet Gynecol 2007;110(3):594-600.

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