Summary. Peritoneal fluid volume was determined and concentrations of C-reactive protein, α1-antitrypsin, acid-α1-glycoprotein, α2-macroglobulin, haptoglobin, complement factors C3 and C4, IgG, IgA and IgM were measured in the supernatant of the peritoneal fluid and in serum by means of a radial-immunodiffusion technique in 25 patients with and in 45 patients without endometriosis. Peritoneal fluid volume was not different between the two groups. The peritoneal fluid:serum ratios for the proteins determined showed a significant inverse correlation with their molecular weight in both groups, indicating that their presence in peritoneal fluid is governed by exudation according to their molecular weight, rather than by active production in, or selective release into, the peritoneal cavity. In control patients only, the ratios of most of the individual proteins studied were significantly higher in the luteal than in the follicular phase. We suggest that the high values of peritoneal fluid:serum ratios in endometriosis patients in the follicular phase reflects an additional contribution by endometriotic tissue and peritoneal macrophages. In the luteal phase, the cycle-dependent increase of protein exudation obscures this additional contribution.
We conclude that endometriosis does not cause marked intra-abdominal inflammatory changes. If the presence of endometriosis lowers fecundity, the mechanism probably does not involve acute-phase protein synthesis.
Keywords: endometriosis; acute-phase proteins; peritoneal fluid; man