Send to:

Choose Destination
See comment in PubMed Commons below
Hum Reprod Update. 2005 May-Jun;11(3):293-307. Epub 2005 Mar 24.

Selective progesterone receptor modulators and progesterone antagonists: mechanisms of action and clinical applications.

Author information

  • 1Vascular Medicine Unit, Tenon Hospital APHP, 4 rue de la Chine, F 75020 Paris, France.


Since the discovery of the antiprogestin mifepristone, hundreds of similar compounds have been synthesized, which can be grouped in a large family of progesterone receptor ligands. This family includes pure agonists such as progesterone itself or progestins and, at the other end of the biological spectrum, pure progesterone receptor antagonists (PA). Selective progesterone receptor modulators (SPRM) have mixed agonist-antagonist properties, and occupy an intermediate position of the spectrum. These compounds have numerous applications in female health care. Mifepristone is used to terminate pregnancy, and as such is commercially available in many countries. The negative abortion-related image of mifepristone has clearly limited the involvement of the major pharmaceutical companies in the development of PA and SPRM. Many PA and SPRM display direct antiproliferative effects in the endometrium, although with variable actions which seem product- and dose-dependent. This property justifies their use in the treatment of myomas and endometriosis. PA also suppress late follicular development, block the LH surge and retard endometrial maturation, which renders them potential estrogen-free contraceptive drugs. SPRM such as asoprisnil are not as effective in blocking the LH surge and appear to target the endometrium directly and produce amenorrhoea. Interestingly, clinical data show that treatment with these compounds is not associated with hypo-estrogenism and bone loss. The potential clinical applications of these compounds cover a broad field and are very promising in major public health areas. These include emergency contraception, long-term estrogen-free contraception (administered alone, or in association with a progestin-only pill to improve bleeding patterns), myomas (where they induce a marked reduction in tumour volume and produce amenorrhoea) and endometriosis. Further developments might also include hormone replacement therapy in post-menopausal women, as well as the treatment of hormone-dependent tumours.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
Free full text
PubMed Commons home

PubMed Commons

How to join PubMed Commons

    Supplemental Content

    Full text links

    Icon for HighWire
    Loading ...
    Write to the Help Desk