Transuterofetoplacental conversion of pregnenolone to progesterone in antiestrogen-treated baboons

Endocrinology. 1987 Oct;121(4):1265-71. doi: 10.1210/endo-121-4-1265.


The present study was designed to characterize the dynamics of progestin metabolism peripherally and across the uterus during normal baboon pregnancy and to determine whether the decline in placental progesterone (P4) production which results from administration of the antiestrogen ethamoxytriphetol (MER-25) to baboons reflects a decrease in conversion of pregnenolone (P5) to P4 and thus delta 5-3 beta-hydroxysteroid dehydrogenase activity. To examine this possibility, the conversion of [3H]P5 to [3H]P4 was determined by the constant infusion method on day 100 (midgestation) and day 175 (near term) of gestation in baboons that received MER-25 (25 mg/day X kg BW, po) on days 95-100 or 140-175 (term = 184 days). Baboons were sedated with ketamine HCl, then received a constant iv infusion of [3H]P5 (1.0 mu Ci/0.388 ml X min) and [14C]P4 (0.2 mu Ci/0.388 ml X min for 110 min. Radiolabeled progestins were purified from blood samples withdrawn from saphenous, uterine, and umbilical vessels, and the MCR of P4 and P5, uterine extraction of P5, and transfer constants (rho) for the peripheral, transuterofetoplacental, and transuteroplacental conversion of P5 to P4 were determined. The formation of P4 from P5 by incubates of placental cells obtained on day 175 from untreated and MER-25-treated baboons was also assessed. During normal baboon pregnancy the mean (+/- SE) % P5 extracted (i.e. metabolized) by the uterus was 31.0 +/- 3.3 at midgestation and 45.7 +/- 5.6 late in gestation. Peripheral and transuterofetoplacental rho values of P5 to P4 in untreated baboons were 6.9 +/- 1.8% and 37.3 +/- 7.9%, respectively, at midgestation and 6.1 +/- 0.6% and 46.8 +/- 10.1%, respectively, near term. The transuteroplacental rho of P5 to P4 was only slightly lower than the transuterofetoplacental values, indicating minimal conversion of P5 to P4 by the fetus. The peripheral contribution of P5 production to the total production rate of P4 at term in baboons was 1%. The contribution of uteroplacental conversion of P5 to P4 to the total conversion of P5 to P4 at midgestation was estimated to be 22%. MER-25 caused a 53% decline (P less than 0.01) in serum P4 concentrations from a mean (+/- SE) of 12.5 +/- 2.4 ng/ml during the pretreatment period to 5.4 +/- 0.3 ng/ml between days 140 and 175 of gestation.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 400 WORDS)

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Estrogen Antagonists / pharmacology*
  • Ethamoxytriphetol / pharmacology
  • Female
  • Fetus / metabolism*
  • Papio
  • Placenta / metabolism*
  • Pregnancy
  • Pregnenolone / metabolism*
  • Pregnenolone / pharmacology
  • Progesterone / biosynthesis*
  • Progesterone / blood
  • Progestins / metabolism
  • Uterus / metabolism*


  • Estrogen Antagonists
  • Progestins
  • Progesterone
  • Ethamoxytriphetol
  • Pregnenolone