Clinically Relevant Progestins Regulate Neurogenic and Neuroprotective Responses in Vitro and in Vivo

Program in Neuroscience, University of Southern California, School of Pharmacy Pharmaceutical Sciences Center, Los Angeles, California 90033, USA.
Endocrinology (Impact Factor: 4.64). 10/2010; 151(12):5782-94. DOI: 10.1210/en.2010-0005
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT Previously, we demonstrated that progesterone (P(4)) promoted adult rat neural progenitor cell (rNPC) proliferation with concomitant regulation of cell-cycle gene expression via the P(4) receptor membrane component/ERK pathway. Here, we report the efficacy of seven clinically relevant progestins alone or in combination with 17β-estradiol (E(2)) on adult rNPC proliferation and hippocampal cell viability in vitro and in vivo. In vitro analyses indicated that P(4), norgestimate, Nestorone, norethynodrel, norethindrone, and levonorgestrel (LNG) significantly increased in rNPC proliferation, whereas norethindrone acetate was without effect, and medroxyprogesterone acetate (MPA) inhibited rNPC proliferation. Proliferative progestins in vitro were also neuroprotective. Acute in vivo exposure to P(4) and Nestorone significantly increased proliferating cell nuclear antigen and cell division cycle 2 expression and total number of hippocampal 5-bromo-2-deoxyuridine (BrdU)-positive cells, whereas LNG and MPA were without effect. Mechanistically, neurogenic progestins required activation of MAPK to promote proliferation. P(4), Nestorone, and LNG significantly increased ATP synthase subunit α (complex V, subunit α) expression, whereas MPA was without effect. In combination with E(2), P(4), Nestorone, LNG, and MPA significantly increased BrdU incorporation. However, BrdU incorporation induced by E(2) plus LNG or MPA was paralleled by a significant increase in apoptosis. A rise in Bax/Bcl-2 ratio paralleled apoptosis induced by LNG and MPA. With the exception of P(4), clinical progestins antagonized E(2)-induced rise in complex V, subunit α. These preclinical translational findings indicate that the neurogenic response to clinical progestins varies dramatically. Progestin impact on the regenerative capacity of the brain has clinical implications for contraceptive and hormone therapy formulations prescribed for pre- and postmenopausal women.

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