Board-invited review: Estrogen and progesterone signaling: genomic and nongenomic actions in domestic ruminants

J Anim Sci. 2008 Feb;86(2):299-315. doi: 10.2527/jas.2007-0489. Epub 2007 Oct 26.


Progesterone and estrogens play key roles in regulating various physiological phenomena related to normal growth, development, and reproduction of domestic animals. This review focuses on the mechanisms by which progesterone and estrogens regulate the reproductive processes in these animals. The majority of research on the actions of progesterone and estrogens on the reproductive systems of cattle, sheep, and pigs has been genomic in nature and represents attempts to better understand how these steroids regulate gene expression. Results of recent research suggest that progesterone and estrogens can alter target cell responses nongenomically via membrane receptors. The characteristics of membrane receptors for progesterone and estrogen in various cell types are described and the intracellular signal pathways defined. Estrogens acting via membrane receptors can suppress LH secretion by gonadotropes and stimulate rapid increases in uterine blood flow. Progesterone acting via a membrane receptor has been shown to inhibit binding of oxytocin to oxytocin receptors in isolated endometrial plasma membranes and stimulate capacitation of spermatozoa. Results of research suggest that progesterone and estrogens can act nongenomically to alter target cell responses in domestic animals. The biological implications of this mode of action in these animals are discussed.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cattle
  • Estrogens / physiology*
  • Female
  • Gene Expression Regulation*
  • Luteinizing Hormone / metabolism
  • Male
  • Oxytocin / metabolism
  • Progesterone / physiology*
  • Reproduction / physiology*
  • Sheep
  • Signal Transduction*
  • Sperm-Ovum Interactions / physiology
  • Swine
  • Uterus / blood supply


  • Estrogens
  • Progesterone
  • Oxytocin
  • Luteinizing Hormone