Rapid non-genomic actions of progesterone stimulate Ca2+ influx and the acrosome reaction in human sperm

Cell Signal. 1993 Sep;5(5):531-8. doi: 10.1016/0898-6568(93)90048-q.


This review summarizes some recent findings in human sperm which show that progesterone and 17 alpha hydroxyprogesterone are able rapidly (within seconds) to elevate [Ca2+]i and elicit the acrosome reaction (AR) via a non-genomic cell surface receptor. Progesterone promotes a transient elevation in [Ca2+]i which is blocked by extracellular La3+ and Ni2+ and removal of extracellular Ca2+ following chelation with EGTA. Some studies suggest that polyamines, trypsin-like proteases, and progesterone receptor aggregation are involved in progesterone-induced Ca2+ influx and AR. The receptor is not stimulated by the potent synthetic progestigins (e.g. promegestone, norethynodrel, megestrol acetate, cyproterone acetate) and is weakly antagonized by the genomic anti-progestins RU 486 and ZK 98.299. The sedative-hypnotic 3 alpha hydroxyl A-ring reduced pregnane steroids, which are powerful activators of the GABAA Cl- channel, are weak activators of Ca2+ influx and the AR. These data suggest that human sperm have a cell surface steroid receptor which is unlike the genomic progesterone receptor and the GABAA Cl- channel steroid receptor.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Acrosome / drug effects
  • Calcium / metabolism*
  • Calcium Channels / metabolism
  • Chloride Channels / metabolism
  • Humans
  • In Vitro Techniques
  • Ion Transport / drug effects
  • Male
  • Progesterone / pharmacology*
  • Receptors, GABA-A / metabolism
  • Receptors, Progesterone / drug effects
  • Receptors, Progesterone / metabolism
  • Spermatozoa / drug effects*
  • Spermatozoa / metabolism*


  • Calcium Channels
  • Chloride Channels
  • Receptors, GABA-A
  • Receptors, Progesterone
  • Progesterone
  • Calcium