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Am J Physiol. 1997 May;272(5 Pt 1):E885-91.

Progesterone-induced changes in sleep in male subjects.

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Department of Psychiatry, Max Planck Institute of Psychiatry, Munich, Germany.


Progesterone administration induces a reduction of the vigilance state in humans during wakefulness. It has been been suggested that this effect is mediated via neuroactive metabolites that interact with the gamma-aminobutyric, acidA (GABAA) receptor complex. To investigate the effects of progesterone administration on the sleep electroencephalogram (EEG) in humans we made polysomnographic recordings, including sleep stage-specific spectral analysis, and concomitantly measured plasma concentrations of progesterone and its GABA-active metabolites 3 alpha-hydroxy-5 alpha-dihydroprogesterone (allopregnanolone) and 3 alpha-hydroxy-5 beta-dihydroprogesterone (pregnanolone) in nine healthy male subjects in a double-blind placebo-controlled crossover study. Progesterone administration at 9:30 PM induced a significant increase in the amount of non-rapid eye movement (REM) sleep. The EEG spectral power during non-REM sleep showed a significant decrease in the slow wave frequency range (0.4-4.3 Hz), whereas the spectral power in the higher frequency range (> 15 Hz) tended to be elevated. Some of the observed changes in sleep architecture and sleep-EEG power spectra are similar to those induced by agonistic modulators of the GABAA receptor complex and appear to be mediated in part via the conversion of progesterone into its GABA-active metabolites.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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