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Cell Mol Life Sci. 2014 May;71(9):1723-40. doi: 10.1007/s00018-013-1448-4. Epub 2013 Aug 28.

Long-term incubation with mifepristone (MLTI) increases the spine density in developing Purkinje cells: new insights into progesterone receptor mechanisms.

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Institute of Anatomy and Molecular Embryology, Ruhr-University Bochum, Universitätsstraße 150, 44780, Bochum, Germany.


Cerebellar Purkinje cells (PC) physiologically reveal an age-dependent expression of progesterone with high endogenous concentrations during the neonatal period. Even if progesterone has been previously shown to induce spinogenesis, dendritogenesis and synaptogenesis in immature PC, data about the effects of progesterone on mature PC are missing, even though they could be of significant therapeutic interest. The current study demonstrates for the first time a progesterone effect, depending on the developmental age of PC. Comparable with the physiological course of the progesterone concentration, experimental treatment with progesterone for 24 h achieves the highest effects on the dendritic tree during the early neonate, inducing an highly significant increase in dendritic length, spine number and spine area, while spine density in mature PC could not be further stimulated by progesterone incubation. Observed progesterone effects are certainly mediated by classical progesterone receptors, as spine area and number were comparable to controls when progesterone incubation was combined with mifepristone (incubation for 24 h), an antagonist of progesterone receptors A and B (PR-A/PR-B). In contrast, an increase in the spine number and area of both immature and mature PC was detected when slice cultures were incubated with mifepristone for more than 72 h (mifepristone long-time incubation, MLTI). By including time-lapse microscopy, electron microscopic techniques, PCR, western blot, and MALDI IMS receptor analysis, as well as specific antagonists like trilostane and AG 205, we were able to detect the underlying mechanism of this diverging mifepristone effect. Thus, our results provide new insights into the function and signaling mechanisms of the recently described progesterone receptor membrane component 1 (PGRMC1) in PC. It is highly suitable that progesterone does not just induce effects by the well-known genomic mechanisms of the classical progesterone receptors but also acts through PGRMC1 mediated non-genomic mechanisms. Thus, our results provide first proofs for a previously discussed progesterone-dependent induction of neurosteroidogenesis in PC by interaction with PGRMC1. But while genomic progesterone effects mediated through classical PR-A and PR-B seem to be restricted to the neonatal period of PC, PGRMC1 also transmits signals by non-genomic mechanisms like regulation of the neurosteroidogenesis in mature PC. Thus, PGRMC1 might be an interesting target for future clinical studies and therapeutic interventions.

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