Hormones and behavior

Mechanisms responsible for progesterone's protection against lordosis-inhibiting effects of restraint I. Role of progesterone receptors.

PMID 21635894


Progestins and antiprogestins are widely used therapeutic agents in humans. In many cases, these are indicated for the treatment of reproductive activities. However, progesterone has widespread physiological effects including a reduction of the response to stress. We have reported that 5 min of restraint reduced lordosis behavior of ovariectomized rats hormonally primed with estradiol benzoate. When ovariectomized rats received both estradiol benzoate and progesterone priming, restraint had minimal effects on lordosis. Progesterone influences behavior through classical intracellular progesterone receptor-mediated nuclear events as well as extranuclear events. How these multiple events contribute to the response to stress is unclear. The current project was designed to initiate examination of the mechanisms responsible for progesterone's ability to protect against the effects of the restraint. In the first experiment, ovariectomized rats, primed with 10 μg estradiol benzoate, received 500 μg progesterone 4 h, 1 h, or 30 min before restraint. When progesterone was injected 4h before restraint, progesterone eliminated the effects of restraint. In contrast, progesterone 30 min before restraint offered no protection. Effects of progesterone 1h before restraint were equivocal allowing the suggestion that less than 4h of progesterone priming might be sufficient. In the second experiment, the synthetic progestin, medroxyprogesterone, was shown to mimic effects of progesterone in preventing effects of restraint. Finally, the progesterone receptor antagonist, RU486, attenuated progesterone's protection against restraint. These findings offer evidence that ligand-activated progesterone receptor mechanisms contribute to the maintenance of lordosis behavior in the presence of mild stress.

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Medroxyprogesterone, VETRANAL, analytical standard