Many rodent models of endometriosis are invasive, involving surgery to implant donor endometrial tissue into recipient animals. Moreover, few studies have compared and contrasted lesions between rodent strains and estrous stages without exogenous hormone manipulation. This is despite extensive data demonstrating that genetic and hormonal factors can influence endometriosis progression. Here, we have refined a minimally invasive model of endometriosis using naturally cycling mice (donor and recipient matched for cycle phase) to investigate lesion development in two different strains (C57BL/6 and BALB/c), induced in estrous stages of high and low estrogen (proestrus or estrus, respectively), and with varying amounts of donor endometrial tissue (7.5–40 mg), injected intraperitoneally. The overall probability of developing endometriosis-like lesions was higher in proestrus than estrus, and increased with greater masses of donor tissue. Similarly, the total number of lesions (0–3) increased from 7.5 to 40mg, and was significantly greater in proestrus C57BL/6 mice but not BALB/cs. The dominant lesion type also differed between mouse strains; C57BL/6 mice were more likely to develop dense-type lesions, whereas BALB/c mice developed a greater proportion of cystic type. These data further support a role for estrogen in the development of endometriosis, and that genetic variance can influence the degree and characteristics of lesions. Our minimally invasive model would be beneficial for studies with outcome measurements particularly sensitive to incisional injury, such as pain, or alterations to sex hormones, including fertility.
Incidence and total number of endometriosis-like lesions in mice is greater during periods of higher endogenous estrogen, and lesions display different characteristics between two genetically diverse, wild-type mouse strains (C57BL/6 and BALB/c).