Endometriosis is an extremely prevalent disorder characterized by the growth of endometrial tissue at ectopic locations. Glycolysis is an energy-producing mechanism that occurs in almost all cells and requires an adequate uptake of glucose mediated by glucose transporter (GLUT) proteins. At present, however, very little is known about their expression in either the endometrium or the endometriotic lesions. The objective of this study was to examine the expression of SLC2A genes in the endometrium of women with and without endometriosis and in the matching ectopic tissue, and to confirm the presence of the GLUT proteins in ectopic lesions. There was a significantly higher expression of SLC2A3 and a significantly lower expression of SLC2A4 in women with endometriosis compared with those without. In women with endometriosis, the ectopic expression of SLC2A3, SLC2A4 and SLC2A5 was significantly higher than that observed in the matching eutopic tissue. GLUT1 protein expression was present in both epithelial and stromal cells and GLUT3 was confined to CD45-positive leukocytes. GLUT4 expression was strong in both ectopic epithelial and stromal cells and localized to the cellular membrane in epithelial cells. These results show that GLUT expression is altered between eutopic and ectopic tissue and between women with and without endometriosis, and that GLUT4 may represent a significant entry route for glucose into the endometriotic epithelial cells. The inducible nature of GLUT4 and its limited cellular expression may make GLUT4 an attractive target for non-hormone-based treatments of endometriosis
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