Progesterone stimulates respiration through a central nervous system steroid receptor-mediated mechanism in cat

D. A. Bayliss, D. E. Millhorn, E. A. Gallman, J. A. Cidlowski

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We have examined the effect on respiration of the steroid hormone progesterone, administered either intravenously or directly into the medulla oblongata in anesthetized and paralyzed male and female cats. The carotid sinus and vagus nerves were cut, and end-tidal P(CO2) and temperature were kept constant with servo-controllers. Phrenic nerve activity was used to quantitate central respiratory activity. Repeated doses of progesterone (from 0.1 to 2.0 μg/kg, cumulative) caused a sustained (> 45 min) facilitation of phrenic nerve activity in female and male cats; however, the response was much more variable in females. Progesterone injected into the region of nucleus tractus solitarii, a respiratory-related area in the medulla oblongata, also caused a prolonged stimulation of respiration. Progesterone administration at high concentration by both routes also caused a substantial hypotension. Identical i.v. doses of other classes of steroid hormones (17β-estradiol, testosterone, and cortisol) did not elicit the same respiratory effect. Pretreatment with RU 486, a progesterone-receptor antagonist, blocked the facilitatory effect of progesterone. We conclude that progesterone acts centrally through a steroid receptor-mediated mechanism to facilitate respiration.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)7788-7792
Number of pages5
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Issue number21
StatePublished - 1987
Externally publishedYes

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