TitleProgesterone receptors as neuroendocrine integrators.
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2001
AuthorsLevine, JE, Chappell, PE, Schneider, JS, Sleiter, NC, Szabo, M
JournalFrontiers in neuroendocrinology
Date Published2001 Apr
KeywordsProgesterone, Receptors

Intracellular progesterone receptors (PRs) are ligand-inducible transcription factors that mediate the majority of the effects of progesterone (P) on neuroendocrine functions. During the past decade, evidence has accumulated which suggest that PRs can also be activated independently of P, by signals propagated through membrane-bound receptors to the interior of cells. The activation of PRs by this type of "cross-talk" mechanism has been implicated in the physiological regulation of several important neuroendocrine processes, including estrous behavior and periovulatory hormone secretions. We review evidence that both ligand-dependent and ligand-independent activation of PRs occurs in central neurons and in anterior pituitary cells and that the convergence and summation of these signals at the PR serves to integrate neural and endocrine signals which direct several critically important neuroendocrine processes. An integrative function for PRs is reviewed in several physiological contexts, including the display of lordosis behavior in female rodents, the neurosecretion of gonadotropin-releasing hormone surges, secretion of preovulatory gonadotropin surges, and release of periovulatory follicle stimulating hormone surges. The weight of evidence indicates that cross talk at the intracellular PR is an essential component of the integrative mechanisms that direct each of these neuroendocrine events. The recurrence of PR's integrative actions in several different physiological contexts suggests that other intracellular steroid receptors similarly function as integrators of neural and endocrine signals in other neuroendocrine processes.