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Neuroscience. 2013 Feb 12;231:111-24. doi: 10.1016/j.neuroscience.2012.11.039. Epub 2012 Dec 2.

Distribution of membrane progesterone receptor alpha in the male mouse and rat brain and its regulation after traumatic brain injury.

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UMR 788 INSERM and University Paris-Sud, 94276 Kremlin-Bicêtre, France.


Progesterone has been shown to exert pleiotropic actions in the brain of both male and females. In particular, after traumatic brain injury (TBI), progesterone has important neuroprotective effects. In addition to intracellular progesterone receptors, membrane receptors of the hormone such as membrane progesterone receptor (mPR) may also be involved in neuroprotection. Three mPR subtypes (mPRα, mPRβ, and mPRγ) have been described and mPRα is best characterized pharmacologically. In the present study we investigated the distribution, cellular localization and the regulation of mPRα in male mouse and rat brain. We showed by reverse transcription-PCR that mPRα is expressed at similar levels in the male and female mouse brain suggesting that its expression may not be influenced by steroid levels. Treatment of males by estradiol or progesterone did not modify the level of expression of mPRα as shown by Western blot analysis. In situ hybridization and immunohistochemistry analysis showed a wide expression of mPRα in particular in the olfactory bulb, striatum, cortex, thalamus, hypothalamus, septum, hippocampus and cerebellum. Double immunofluorescence and confocal microscopy analysis showed that mPRα is expressed by neurons but not by oligodendrocytes and astrocytes. In the rat brain, the distribution of mPRα was similar to that observed in mouse brain; and after TBI, mPRα expression was induced in oligodendrocytes, astrocytes and reactive microglia. The wide neuroanatomical distribution of mPRα suggests that this receptor may play a role beyond neuroendocrine and reproductive functions. However, in the absence of injury its role might be restricted to neurons. The induction of mPRα after TBI in microglia, astrocytes and oligodendrocytes, points to a potential role in mediating the modulatory effects of progesterone in inflammation, ion and water homeostasis and myelin repair in the injured brain.

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