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J Steroid Biochem Mol Biol. 1994 Nov;51(3-4):199-207.

Progesterone metabolism by guinea pig intrauterine tissues.

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  • 1Department of Biochemistry, University of Western Ontario, London, Canada.


Progesterone metabolism by guinea pig amnion, chorion, myometrium, and endometrium was studied at the following gestational stages. Day 45 represents mid-gestation, about 5 days before strong chorion interaction between the entire surface of the chorion and the uterus; days 57-58, 1-2 days after chorion attachment, and 2-3 days before the onset of pubic symphysis relaxation; days +1-+6, 1-6 days after the onset of pubic symphysis relaxation, i.e. within 1 week of parturition. The high metabolic activity of chorion exceeded that by amnion at all stages. Metabolism by endometrium and myometrium was always low. Conversion of progesterone by amnion significantly decreased (P < 0.05) between days 57-58 and days +1-+6. Progesterone metabolites produced by chorion and amnion were identified by TLC, HPLC, and capillary GC/MS. Both tissues converted progesterone to three major products during 60-min incubations. These were 5 alpha-pregnane-3,20-dione, 3 alpha-hydroxy-5 alpha-pregnan-20-one, and 3 beta-hydroxy-5 alpha-pregnan-20-one. The metabolite pattern differed between the two tissues. Three-minute incubations with chorion resulted in a significantly higher proportion of 3 alpha-hydroxy-4-pregnen-20-one (P < 0.01) and 5 alpha-pregnane-3,20-dione (P < 0.025) than at 60 min. The production of 3 beta-hydroxy-5 alpha-pregnen-20-one by chorion decreased (P < 0.05) between days 50-51 and 57-58. The ratio of 3 alpha-hydroxy-5 alpha-pregnan-20-one to 3 beta-hydroxy-5 alpha-pregnan-20-one increased (P < 0.05) between days 45 post-relaxation. The marked conversion of progesterone by chorion, or the formation of one or more of its metabolites, may serve to influence uterine function prior to delivery.

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