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J Steroid Biochem Mol Biol. 1994 Nov;51(3-4):191-7.

Androstenedione stimulates progesterone production in corpora lutea of pregnant rats: an effect not mediated by oestrogen.

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Laboratorio de Biologia de la Reproducción (LABIR), Facultad de Química, Universidad Nacional de San Luis, Argentina.


To determine if androstenedione, an aromatizable androgen, has a direct effect on luteal progesterone secretion, collagenase-dispersed luteal cells or whole corpora lutea from pregnant rats were incubated in the presence of the androgen. Luteal cells from 15-day pregnant rats responded to androstenedione in a dose-dependent manner, with an increase in progesterone output at doses of 1 and 10 microM, but with no effect at minor doses of the androgen. Luteal cells obtained from animals on day 4, 9, 15 or 19 of pregnancy and incubated with 10 microM of androstenedione, increased progesterone production by 243, 39, 84 and 146%, respectively. Androgens (androstenedione, testosterone or dihydrotestosterone) but no oestrogens (oestradiol or diethylstilboestrol) at a dose of 10 microM, stimulated progesterone production in incubated luteal cells obtained from 15-day pregnant rats. The time-course pattern of androstenedione-induced progesterone production was studied by superfusion experiments using corpora lutea from rats on day 15 of pregnancy. A significant progesterone output was observed when androstenedione, but not oestradiol, was perfused through the luteal tissue. Intrabursal ovarian administration of androstenedione (10 microM) to 19-day pregnant rats induced a significative increase in serum progesterone levels 8 and 24 h after treatment. These in vivo results confirm the stimulatory effect of androstendione on progesterone production obtained in incubated luteal cells from pregnant rats. This study reports a direct luteotrophic effect of androstenedione in rat corpus luteum, not mediated by previous conversion to oestrogens.

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