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PLoS One. 2014 Jun 19;9(6):e100421. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0100421. eCollection 2014.

The nuclear progesterone receptor reduces post-sigh apneas during sleep and increases the ventilatory response to hypercapnia in adult female mice.

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Department of Pediatrics and Research Centre CHU de Québec, Université Laval, Québec (QC), Canada.


We tested the hypothesis that the nuclear progesterone receptor (nPR) is involved in respiratory control and mediates the respiratory stimulant effect of progesterone. Adult female mice carrying a mutation in the nPR gene (PRKO mice) and wild-type controls (WT) were implanted with an osmotic pump delivering vehicle or progesterone (4 mg/kg/day). The mice were instrumented with EEG and neck EMG electrodes connected to a telemetry transmitter. The animals were placed in a whole body plethysmograph 7 days after surgery to record ventilation, metabolic rate, EEG and neck EMGs for 4 consecutive hours. The animals were exposed to hypercapnia (5% CO2), hypoxia (12% O2) and hypoxic-hypercapnia (5% CO2+12% O2-5 min each) to assess chemoreflex responses. EEG and EMG signals were used to characterize vigilance states (e.g., wake, non-REM, and REM sleep). PRKO mice exhibited similar levels of minute ventilation during non-REM and REM sleep, and higher frequencies of sighs and post-sigh apneas during non-REM sleep compared to WT. Progesterone treatment increased minute ventilation and metabolic rate in WT and PRKO mice during non-REM sleep. In WT mice, but not in PRKO mice, the ventilation under hypercapnia and hypoxic hypercapnia was enhanced after progesterone treatment. We conclude that the nPR reduces apnea frequency during non-REM sleep and enhances chemoreflex responses to hypercapnia after progesterone treatment. These results also suggest that mechanisms other than nPR activation increase metabolic rate in response to progesterone treatment in adult female mice.

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