Diverse modes of action of progesterone and its metabolites

Virendra B. Mahesh, Darrell W. Brann, Lawrence B. Hendry

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

23 Scopus citations


Progesterone and its metabolites have a variety of diverse effects in the brain, uterus, smooth muscle, sperm and the oocyte. The effects include changes in electrophysiological excitability, induction of anesthesia, regulation of gonadotropin secretion, regulation of estrogen receptors, modulation of uterine contractility and induction of acrosome reaction and oocyte maturation. The latency of the effects vary from several seconds to several hours. Thus, it is not surprising that multiple mechanisms of action are involved. The classical mechanism of steroid hormone action of intracellular receptor binding has been supplemented by the possibility of the steroid acting as a transcription factor after the binding of the receptor protein to DNA. Other mechanisms include influence of the steroids on membrane fluidity and acting through other cell signalling systems, membrane receptors and GABA(A) receptors. Of particular interest are multiple mechanisms for the same types of action. For example the effect of progesterone on gondadotropin release is largely exerted via the classical intracellular receptor as well as membrane receptors, whereas 3α,5α-tetrahydroprogesterone-induced LH release occurs via the GABA(A) receptor system. The inhibition of uterine contractility by progesterone is regulated by progesterone receptors while the action of 3α,5α-tetrahydroprogesterone on uterine contractility is regulated by GABA(A) receptors. The regulation of the differences in the pattern of progesterone effects on estrogen receptor dynamics in the anterior pituitary and the uterus in the same animal are also of considerable interest.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)209-219
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Steroid Biochemistry and Molecular Biology
Issue number1-6
StatePublished - Jan 1996

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism
  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Medicine
  • Molecular Biology
  • Endocrinology
  • Clinical Biochemistry
  • Cell Biology


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