Clinically relevant progestins regulate neurogenic and neuroprotective responses in vitro and in vivo
Previously, we demonstrated that progesterone (P4) promoted adult rat neural progenitor cell (rNPC) proliferation with concomitant regulation of cell-cycle gene expression via the P4 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 P4, 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 P4 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. P4, Nestorone, and LNG significantly increased ATP synthase subunit α (complex V, subunit α) expression, whereas MPA was without effect. In combination with E 2, P4, Nestorone, LNG, and MPA significantly increased BrdU incorporation. However, BrdU incorporation induced by E2 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 P4, clinical progestins antagonized E2-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.
Liu, Lifei, Ligin Zhao, Hongyun She, Shuhua Chen, Jun Ming Wang, Charisse Wong, Kelsey McClure, Régine Sitruk-Ware, and Roberta Diaz Brinton. 2010. "Clinically relevant progestins regulate neurogenic and neuroprotective responses in vitro and in vivo," Endocrinology 151(12): 5782–5794.