Experimental physiology

Neuromodulation of the luteal regression: presence of progesterone receptors in coeliac ganglion.

PMID 26084725


What is the central question of this study? The processes involved in luteal involution have not yet been clarified and, in general, have been studied only from a hormonal point of view. We investigated whether progesterone, from the coeliac ganglion through the superior ovarian nerve, is able to modify the luteal regression of late pregnancy in the rat. What is the main finding and its importance? We showed that the luteal regression might be reversed by the neural effect of progesterone and demonstrated the presence of its receptors in the coeliac ganglion. This suggests that the peripheral neural pathway, through neuron-hormone interaction, represents an additional mechanism to control luteal function in addition to the classical endocrine regulation. The corpus luteum (CL) is a transitory endocrine gland that produces progesterone (P). At the end of its useful life, it suffers a process of functional and structural regression until its complete disappearance from the ovary. To investigate whether P is able to regulate the process of luteal regression through the peripheral neural pathway, we used the coeliac ganglion (CG)-superior ovarian nerve-ovary system from rats on dayxa021 of pregnancy. We stimulated the CG with P and analysed the functional regression through ovarian P release measured by radioimmunoassay, expression by RT-PCR and activity of luteal 3β- and 20α-hydroxysteroid dehydrogenase (anabolic and catabolic P enzymes, respectively). The luteal structural regression was evaluated through a study of apoptosis measured by TUNEL assay and the expression of apoptotic factors, such as Bcl-2, Bax, Fas and Fas ligand (FasL) by RT-PCR. To explore whether the effects mediated by P on the CL may be associated with P receptors, their presence in the CG was investigated by immunohistochemistry. In the group stimulated with P in the CG, the ovarian P release and the 3β-hydroxysteroid dehydrogenase activity increased, whereas the expression and activity of 20α-hydroxysteroid dehydrogenase decreased. In addition, a decrease in the number of apoptotic nuclei and a decrease of the expression of FasL were observed. We demonstrated the presence of P receptors in the CG. Overall, our results suggest that the regression of the CL of late pregnancy may be reprogrammed through the peripheral neural pathway, and this effect might be mediated by P bound to its receptor in the CG.