Non-clinical studies of progesterone

Climacteric. 2018 Aug;21(4):315-320. doi: 10.1080/13697137.2018.1463982. Epub 2018 May 23.


Progesterone is a steroid hormone that is essential for the regulation of reproductive function. Progesterone has been approved for several indications including the treatment of anovulatory menstrual cycles, assisted reproductive technology, contraception during lactation and, when combined with estrogen, for the prevention of endometrial hyperplasia in postmenopausal hormonal therapy. In addition to its role in reproduction, progesterone regulates a number of biologically distinct processes in other tissues, particularly in the nervous system. This physiological hormone is poorly absorbed when administered in a crystalline form and is not active when given orally, unless in micronized form, or from different non-oral delivery systems that allow a more constant delivery rate. A limited number of preclinical studies have been conducted to document the toxicity, carcinogenicity and overall animal safety of progesterone delivered from different formulations, and these rather old studies showed no safety concern. More recently, it has been shown in animal experiments that progesterone, its metabolite allopregnanolone and structurally related progestins have positive effects on neuroregeneration and repair of brain damage, as well as myelin repair. These recent preclinical findings have the potential to accelerate therapeutic translation for multiple unmet neurological needs.

Keywords: Progesterone; carcinogenicity; neuroregeneration; pharmacodynamics; toxicology studies.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Brain / drug effects*
  • Brain / metabolism
  • Endometrial Hyperplasia / chemically induced
  • Endometrial Hyperplasia / prevention & control*
  • Estrogens / adverse effects
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Models, Animal
  • Progesterone / metabolism
  • Progesterone / pharmacology*
  • Progesterone / toxicity
  • Progestins / metabolism
  • Progestins / pharmacology*
  • Progestins / toxicity


  • Estrogens
  • Progestins
  • Progesterone