Endometriosis is a common gynaecological disease, defined as the presence of endometrial tissue outside the uterus, causing pelvic pain and subfertility in approximately 10% of women of reproductive age. Current therapies lead to pain relief, however, do not address the causes and entail severe side effects. Still little is known about the pathogenic processes leading to the development and maintenance of endometriosis. Because endometriosis occurs spontaneously only in humans and some non-human primates, animal models of induced endometriosis have been developed and are of high value for the evaluation of pathophysiological mechanisms underlying the development of this disease. These experimental models include the autotransplantation of uterine fragments into the peritoneal cavity of rodents and non-human primates or the heterotransplantation of human endometrial or endometriotic tissue to immunodeficient mice or onto the chicken chorioallantoic membrane (CAM). This review describes the animal models for endometriosis and assesses their different potentials and limitations in regard to endometriosis research, with the aim of developing novel non-invasive diagnostic tools and improved strategies for the treatment of endometriosis in women.
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