Progesterone increases ex vivo testosterone production and decreases the expression of progestin receptors and steroidogenic enzymes in the fathead minnow (Pimephales promelas) ovary

Yasmin Z Chishti, April Feswick, Christopher J Martyniuk
General and Comparative Endocrinology 2014 April 1, 199: 16-25
Progesterone (P4) is a metabolic precursor for a number of steroids, including estrogens and androgens. P4 also has diverse roles within the vertebrate ovary that include oocyte growth and development. The objectives of this study were to measure the effects of P4 on testosterone (T) and 17β-estradiol (E2) production in the fathead minnow (FHM) ovary and on the mRNA abundance of transcripts involved in steroidogenesis and steroid receptor signaling. Ovary explants were treated with P4 (10(-6)M) for 6 and 12h. P4 administration significantly increased T production ∼3-fold at both 6 and 12h, whereas E2 production was not affected, consistent with the hypothesis that excess P4 is not converted to terminal estrogens in the mature ovary. Nuclear progesterone receptor mRNA was decreased at 6h and membrane progesterone receptor gamma-2 mRNA was significantly down-regulated at both 6 and 12h; however there was no change in membrane progesterone receptor alpha or beta mRNA levels. Androgen receptor (ar) and estrogen receptor 2a (esr2a) mRNA were significantly reduced at 6h with P4 treatment, but there was no change in esr2b mRNA at either time point. Transcripts for enzymes in the steroid pathway (star, hsd11b2) were significantly lower at 6h compared to controls, whereas cyp17a and cyp19a mRNA abundance did not change with treatments at either time point. These data suggest that P4 incubation can lead to increased T production in the FHM ovary without a concomitant change in E2, and that the membrane bound progestin receptors are differentially regulated by P4 in the teleost ovary. As environmental progestins have received increased attention due to their suspected role as endocrine disruptors, mechanistic data on the role of exogenous P4 treatments in the male and female gonad is warranted.

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