Local synthesis and dual actions of progesterone in the nervous system: neuroprotection and myelination.

Authors: Schumacher M, Guennoun R, Robert F, Carelli C, Gago N, Ghoumari A, Gonzalez Deniselle MC, Gonzalez SL, Ibanez C, Labombarda F, Coirini H, Baulieu EE, De Nicola AF.

Publication Year: 2004

Citation: Growth Horm IGF Res. 2004;14 Suppl A:S18-33.

This paper reviews of the effects of progesterone as an autocrine/paracrine hormone in the brain. The brain, spinal cord and peripheral nerves all synthesize progesterone from the precursor, pregnenolone. Macroglial cells, including astrocytes, oligodendroglial cells and Schwann cells, also have the capacity to synthesize progesterone. This production is regulated by cellular interactions. Recent research has suggested the role progesterone plays in the brain is likely a significant one, supporting the viability of neurons and the formation of myelin sheaths. In mice and rat studies, progesterone also demonstrated a neuroprotective effect. These actions of progesterone suggest viable therapeutic possibilities for the prevention and treatment of neurodegenerative diseases, as well as for repair processes and for preserving cognitive functions with age.