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J Steroid Biochem Mol Biol. 1995 Dec;55(3-4):385-93.

Dual regulation of luteal progesterone production by androstenedione during spontaneous and RU486-induced luteolysis in pregnant rats.

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Laboratorio de Reproducción y Lactancia, CRICYT-CONICET, Mendoza, Argentina.


The effect of androstenedione on luteal progesterone production was studied during luteolysis preceding parturition as well as that induced by the antiprogestin RU486 in late pregnant rats. Luteal cells from animals on days 19, 20 or 21 of pregnancy and incubated with 10 microM androstenedione increased progesterone production by 99, 136, and 277%, respectively. The animals receiving androstenedione (10 mg/rat s.c.) on day 19 of pregnancy showed an increase in serum progesterone levels, a decline in luteal 3 beta-hydroxysteroid dehydrogenase (3 beta-HSD) activity and an increase in corpus luteum weight without modifying 20 alpha-hydroxysteroid dehydrogenase (20 alpha-HSD) activity on day 21 of pregnancy. Androstenedione and testosterone but not dihydrotestosterone were able to prevent the decrease in serum progesterone concentration and corpus luteum weight observed 58 h after treatment with RU486 (2 mg/kg) on day 18 of pregnancy. However, the three androgens studied inhibited the luteal 3 beta-HSD activity but 20 alpha-HSD activity was not affected, when compared with animals receiving RU486 alone. The co-administration of androstenedione with the aromatase inhibitor 4-hydroxyandrostenedione or with the specific antioestrogen ICI 164,384 did not modify the effects induced by androstenedione in RU486-treated rats, indicating that the action of androstenedione on progesterone production and secretion at the time of luteolysis seems to occur through an androgenic mechanism and is not mediated by previous conversion of the androgens to oestrogens. In all experiments the high luteal 20 alpha-HSD activity, that characterizes a luteolytic process, was not modified by androgens. Androstenedione administered to adrenalectomized rats was also able to prevent the decrease in serum progesterone concentration observed in spontaneous or RU486-induced luteolysis. The administration of androstenedione to RU486-treated rats induced a decrease in luteal progesterone content concomitant with an increase in serum progesterone levels. These studies demonstrate that androgens during luteolysis, are able to stimulate luteal progesterone secretion, prevent the loss in corpora lutea weight and enhance the decrease in 3 beta-HSD activity, without affecting the increase in 20 alpha-HSD activity.

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