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BACKGROUND: Endometriosis is estimated to affect 1 in 10 women during the reproductive years. There is often delay in making the diagnosis, mainly due to the non-specific nature of the associated symptoms and the need to verify the disease surgically. A biomarker that is simple to measure could help clinicians to diagnose (or at least exclude) endometriosis; it might also allow the effects of treatment to be monitored. If effective, such a marker or panel of markers could prevent unnecessary diagnostic procedures and/or recognize treatment failure at an early stage. METHODS: We used QUADAS (Quality Assessment of Diagnostic Accuracy Studies) criteria to perform a systematic review of the literature over the last 25 years to assess critically the clinical value of all proposed biomarkers for endometriosis in serum, plasma and urine. RESULTS: We identified over 100 putative biomarkers in publications that met the selection criteria. We were unable to identify a single biomarker or panel of biomarkers that have unequivocally been shown to be clinically useful. CONCLUSIONS: Peripheral biomarkers show promise as diagnostic aids, but further research is necessary before they can be recommended in routine clinical care. Panels of markers may allow increased sensitivity and specificity of any diagnostic test.

Original publication




Journal article


Hum reprod update

Publication Date





651 - 674


Antibodies, Apoptosis, Biomarkers, Cell Adhesion, Cytokines, Endometriosis, Female, Glycoproteins, Hormones, Humans, Intercellular Signaling Peptides and Proteins, Leukocytes, Proteomics, Vascular Endothelial Growth Factor A