Progesterone as a regulator of granulosa cell viability

J Steroid Biochem Mol Biol. 2003 Jun;85(2-5):167-73. doi: 10.1016/s0960-0760(03)00192-4.


Progesterone (P4) prevents numerous cells, including uterine, mammary and ovarian cells, from undergoing apoptosis. Interestingly, P4 prevents apoptosis of ovarian granulosa cells (GCs), which do not express the classic nuclear P4 receptor. This review presents data that support a non-genomic action of P4 in granulosa cells. These studies were conducted using both primary rat granulosa cells and rat spontaneously immortalized granulosa cells (SIGCs). Specifically, these studies reveal that (1) 3H-P4 specifically binds to SIGCs; (2) an antibody directed against the ligand binding domain of the nuclear P4 receptor (C-262) detects a 60kDa protein, which localizes to the plasma membrane and binds P4; and (3) treatment with C-262 blocks P4's ability to maintain granulosa cell viability. Additional studies demonstrate that a protein kinase G (PKG) activator, 8-br-cGMP, mimics and PKG antagonists, Rp-8-pcCPT-GMP and KT5823, attenuate P4's action. These studies support the concept that the 60kDa P4 binding protein functions as membrane receptor for P4 which activates a PKG-dependent mechanism to regulate granulosa cell survival.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Apoptosis
  • Calcium / physiology
  • Cell Survival / drug effects
  • Cell Survival / physiology*
  • Cyclic GMP-Dependent Protein Kinases / metabolism
  • Female
  • Granulosa Cells / cytology*
  • Granulosa Cells / drug effects
  • Humans
  • Models, Biological
  • Progesterone / pharmacology
  • Progesterone / physiology*


  • Progesterone
  • Cyclic GMP-Dependent Protein Kinases
  • Calcium