Journal of the peripheral nervous system : JPNS

Sex-dimorphic effects of progesterone and its reduced metabolites on gene expression of myelin proteins by rat Schwann cells.

PMID 16787508


Data obtained in our and other laboratories have indicated that progesterone (P) and its derivatives, dihydroprogesterone (DHP) and tetrahydroprogesterone (THP), stimulate the expression of two myelin proteins of the peripheral nervous system (PNS) [i.e., glycoprotein zero (P0) and peripheral myelin protein 22 (PMP22)]. We have now considered the effects of P and its derivatives on these and other myelin proteins [i.e., myelin-associated glycoprotein (MAG) and myelin and lymphocyte protein (MAL)] in sex-specific cultures of rat Schwann cells. Gene expression of myelin proteins was assessed by RNase protection assay. Treatment with P or DHP induced a stimulatory effect on P0 mRNA levels in male but not in female Schwann cells. In contrast, treatment with THP increased gene expression of P0 exclusively in female Schwann cells. A similar sex-difference was also evident for other myelin proteins. Indeed, PMP22 expression was stimulated by treatment with P in male cultures, whereas THP induced an increase of mRNA levels in female cultures. Moreover, MAG was stimulated by THP treatment in male cultures only, whereas MAL expression was unaffected by neuroactive steroid treatment in both male and female cultures. In conclusion, the present observations indicate that the effects of neuroactive steroids on myelin proteins are sexually dimorphic. This finding might represent an important background for sex-specific therapies of acquired and inherited peripheral neuropathies.