AskDefine | Define progesterone

Dictionary Definition

progesterone n : a steroid hormone (trade name Lipo-Lutin) produced in the ovary; prepares and maintains the uterus for pregnancy [syn: Lipo-Lutin]

User Contributed Dictionary

English

Noun

  1. steroid hormone uncountable A steroid hormone, secreted by the ovaries, whose function is to prepare the uterus for the implantation of a fertilized ovum and to maintain pregnancy.
  2. steroid drug countable A synthetic version of the compound, used in contraceptive pills and other pharmaceutical products.

Translations

the steroid hormone
  • Czech: progesteron
  • Italian: progesterone
synthetic version of the compound

Italian

Noun

Related terms

Extensive Definition

Progesterone is a C-21 steroid hormone involved in the female menstrual cycle, pregnancy (supports gestation) and embryogenesis of humans and other species. Progesterone belongs to a class of hormones called progestogens, and is the major naturally occurring human progestogen.
Progesterone should not be confused with progestins, which are synthetically produced progestogens.

Chemistry

Progesterone was independently discovered by four research groups.
Willard Myron Allen who co-discovered Progesterone with his anatomy professor George Washington Corner at the University of Rochester Medical School in 1933. Allen first determined its melting point, molecular weight, and partial molecular structure. He also gave it the name Progesterone derived from Progestational Steroidal ketone.
Like other steroids, progesterone consists of four interconnected cyclic hydrocarbons. Progesterone contains ketone and oxygenated functional groups, as well as two methyl branches. Like all steroid hormones, it is hydrophobic.

Synthesis

Progesterone, like all other steroid hormones, is synthesized from pregnenolone, a derivative of cholesterol. This conversion takes place in two steps. The 3-hydroxyl group is converted to a keto group and the double bond is moved to C-4, from C-5.
Progesterone is the precursor of the mineralocorticoid aldosterone, and after conversion to 17-hydroxyprogesterone (another natural progestogen) of cortisol and androstenedione. Androstenedione can be converted to testosterone, estrone and estradiol.

Sources

Progesterone is produced in the adrenal glands, the gonads (specifically after ovulation in the corpus luteum), the brain, and, during pregnancy, in the placenta.
In humans, increasing amounts of progesterone are produced during pregnancy:
  • Initially, the source is the corpus luteum that has been "rescued" by the presence of human chorionic gonadotropins (hCG) from the conceptus.
  • However, after the 8th week production of progesterone shifts over to the placenta. The placenta utilizes maternal cholesterol as the initial substrate, and most of the produced progesterone enters the maternal circulation, but some is picked up by the fetal circulation and is used as substrate for fetal corticosteroids. At term the placenta produces about 250 mg progesterone per day.
  • An additional source of progesterone are milk products. They contain much progesterone because on dairy farms cows are milked during pregnancy, when the progesterone content of the milk is high. After consumption of milk products the level of bioavailable progesterone goes up. This observation has resulted in concern that diets high in dairy products might induce pet and human diseases.

Levels

In women, progesterone levels are relatively low during the preovulatory phase of the menstrual cycle, rise after ovulation, and are elevated during the luteal phase. In women progesterone levels tend to be 5 ng/ml after ovulation. If pregnancy occurs, progesterone levels are maintained at luteal levels initially. With the onset of the luteal-placental shift in progesterone support of the pregnancy levels start to rise further and may reach 100-200 ng/ml at term. Whether a decrease in progesterone levels is critical for the initiation of labor has been argued and may be species-specific. After delivery of the placenta and during lactation, progesterone levels are very low.
Progesterone levels are relatively low in children and postmenopausal women. Adult males have levels similar to those in women during the follicular phase of the menstrual cycle.

Effects

Progesterone exerts its action primarily through the intracellular progesterone receptor although a distinct, membrane bound progesterone receptor has also been postulated. Progesterone has a number of physiological effects which are amplified in the presence of estrogen. Estrogen through estrogen receptors upregulates the expression of progesterone receptors.

Reproductive system

Progesterone is sometimes called the "hormone of pregnancy", and it has many roles relating to the development of the fetus:
  • Progesterone converts the endometrium to its secretory stage to prepare the uterus for implantation. At the same time progesterone affects the vaginal epithelium and cervical mucus, making the mucus thick and impermeable to sperm. If pregnancy does not occur, progesterone levels will decrease, leading, in the human, to menstruation. Normal menstrual bleeding is progesterone withdrawal bleeding.
  • During implantation and gestation, progesterone appears to decrease the maternal immune response to allow for the acceptance of the pregnancy.
Progesterone as neuroprotectant affects regulation of apoptotic genes.
Its effect as a neurosteroid works predominantly through the GSK-3 beta pathway, as an inhibitor. (Other GSK-3 beta inhibitors include bipolar mood stabilizers, lithium and valproic acid.)

Other systems

  • It increases core temperature (thermogenic function) during ovulation.
  • It normalizes blood clotting and vascular tone, zinc and copper levels, cell oxygen levels, and use of fat stores for energy.
  • It appears to prevent endometrial cancer (involving the uterine lining) by regulating the effects of estrogen.

Medical applications

The use of progesterone and its analogues have many medical applications -- both to address acute situations, and to address the long-term decline of natural progesterone levels. Because of the poor bioavailability of progesterone when taken orally, many synthetic progestins have been designed. However, the roles of progesterone may not be fulfilled by the synthetic progestins which in some cases were designed solely to mimic progesterone's uterine effects.

Bioavailability

Progesterone is poorly absorbed by oral ingestion unless micronised and in oil, or with fatty foods; it does not dissolve in water. Products such as Prometrium, Utrogestan, Minagest and Microgest are therefore capsules containing micronised progesterone in oil - in all three mentioned the oil is peanut oil, which may cause serious allergic reactions in some people, but compounding pharmacies, which have the facilities and licenses to make their own products, can use alternatives. Vaginal and rectal application is also effective, with products such as CRINONE and PROCHIEVE bioadhesive progesterone vaginal gels (the only progesterone products FDA-approved for use in infertility and during pregnancy) and Cyclogest, which is progesterone in cocoa butter in the form of pessaries. Progesterone can be given by injection, but because it has a short half-life they need to be daily. Implants, for a longer period, are also available. Marketing of progesterone phamaceutical products, country to country, varies considerably, with many countries having no oral progesterone products marketed, but they can usually be specially imported by pharmacies through international wholesalers.
"Natural progesterone" products derived from yams, do not require a prescription. Wild yams contain a plant steroid called diosgenin, however there is no evidence that the human body can metabolize diosgenin into progesterone. Diosgenin can however be chemically converted into progesterone in the lab.

Specific uses

  • Progesterone is used to support pregnancy in Assisted Reproductive Technology (ART) cycles such as In-vitro Fertilization (IVF). While daily intramuscular injections of progesterone have been the standard route of administration, a recent meta-analysis showed that the intravaginal route with an appropriate dose and dosing frequency is equivalent to daily intramuscular injections.
  • Progesterone is being investigated as potentially beneficial in treating multiple sclerosis, since the characteristic deterioration of nerve myelin insulation halts during pregnancy, when progesterone levels are raised; deterioration commences again when the levels drop.
  • Vaginally dosed progesterone is being investigated as potentially beneficial in preventing preterm birth in women at risk for preterm birth. The initial study by Fonseca suggested that vaginal progesterone could prevent preterm birth in women with a history of preterm birth.
A subsequent and larger study showed that vaginal progesterone was no better than placebo in preventing recurrent preterm birth in women with a history of a previous preterm birth, but a planned secondary analysis of the data in this trial showed that women with a short cervix at baseline in the trial had benefit in two ways: a reduction in births less than 32 weeks and a reduction in both the frequency and the time their babies were in intensive care. In another trial, vaginal progesterone was shown to be better than placebo in reducing preterm birth prior to 34 weeks in women with an extremely short cervix at baseline. An editorial by Roberto Romero discusses the role of sonographic cervical length in identifying patients who may benefit from progesterone treatment.
  • Progesterone is used in hormone replacement therapy for transwomen, and some women with intersex conditions - especially when synthetic progestins have been ineffective or caused side-effects - since normal breast tissue cannot develop except in the presence of both progestogen and estrogen. Mammary glandular tissue is otherwise fibrotic, the breast shape conical and the areola immature. Progesterone can correct those even after years of inadequate hormonal treatment. Research usually cited against such value was conducted using Provera, a synthetic progestin. Progesterone also has a role in skin elasticity and bone strength, in respiration, in nerve tissue and in female sexuality, and the presence of progesterone receptors in certain muscle and fat tissue may hint at a role in sexually-dimorphic proportions of those.
Note that methods of hormonal contraception do not contain progesterone but a progestin.
Progesterone may affect male behavior.
Lawn chemicals and no-till agricultual practices may disturb both estrogen and progesterone metabolism.

Aging

Since most progesterone in males is created during testicular production of testosterone, and most in females by the ovaries, the shutting down (whether by natural or chemical means), or removal, of those inevitably causes a considerable reduction in progesterone levels. Previous concentration upon the role of progestagens (progesterone and molecules with similar effects) in female reproduction, when progesterone was simply considered a "female hormone", obscured the significance of progesterone elsewhere in both sexes.
The tendency for progesterone to have a regulatory effect, the presence of progesterone receptors in many types of body tissue, and the pattern of deterioration (or tumor formation) in many of those increasing in later years when progesterone levels have dropped, is prompting widespread research into the potential value of maintaining progesterone levels in both males and females.

Brain damage

It has been observed in animal models that females have reduced susceptibility to traumatic brain injury and this protective effect has been hypothesized to be caused by increased circulating levels of estrogen and progesterone in females. A number of additional animal studies have confirmed that progesterone has neuroprotective effects when administered shortly after traumatic brain injury. Encouraging results have also been reported in human clinical trials.
The mechanism of progesterone protective effects may be the reduction of inflammation which follows brain trauma.

References

Additional images

Image:Steroidogenesis.gif|Steroidogenesis Image:Pregnenolone.png|Pregnenolone Image:Deoxycorticosterone.svg|Deoxycorticosterone
progesterone in Bulgarian: Прогестерон
progesterone in Danish: Progesteron
progesterone in German: Progesteron
progesterone in Dhivehi: ޕްރޯޖެސްޓަރޯން
progesterone in Spanish: Progesterona
progesterone in French: Progestérone
progesterone in Italian: Progesterone
progesterone in Hebrew: פרוגסטרון
progesterone in Lithuanian: Progesteronas
progesterone in Dutch: Progesteron
progesterone in Japanese: プロゲステロン
progesterone in Norwegian: Progesteron
progesterone in Occitan (post 1500): Progesterona
progesterone in Polish: Progesteron
progesterone in Portuguese: Progesterona
progesterone in Finnish: Keltarauhashormoni
progesterone in Swedish: Progesteron
progesterone in Turkish: Projesteron
progesterone in Chinese: 黃體素
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