Background: Although it has been more than a century since endometriosis was initially
described in the literature, understanding the etiology and natural history of the disease has been
challenging. However, the broad utility of murine and rat models of experimental endometriosis has
enabled the elucidation of a number of potentially targetable processes which may otherwise promote
Objective: To review a variety of studies utilizing rodent models of endometriosis to illustrate their
utility in examining mechanisms associated with development and progression of this disease.
Results: Use of rodent models of endometriosis has provided a much broader understanding of the
risk factors for the initial development of endometriosis, the cellular pathology of the disease and
the identification of potential therapeutic targets.
Conclusion: Although there are limitations with any animal model, the variety of experimental
endometriosis models that have been developed has enabled investigation into numerous aspects of
this disease. Thanks to these models, our understanding of the early processes of disease development,
the role of steroid responsiveness, inflammatory processes and the peritoneal environment
has been advanced. More recent models have begun to shed light on how epigenetic alterations
contribute to the molecular basis of this disease as well as the multiple comorbidities which plague
many patients. Continued developments of animal models which aid in unraveling the mechanisms
of endometriosis development provide the best opportunity to identify therapeutic strategies to prevent
or regress this enigmatic disease.