Multilevel regulation of steroid synthesis and metabolism in the bovine placenta

Phuong T T Nguyen, Alan J Conley, Tanya K. Soboleva, Rita S F Lee

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


Steroid hormones play critical roles in almost all physiological processes in male and female reproduction. In a normal pregnancy, the concentrations of steroid hormones in maternal and foetal blood vary with gestation in response to changing needs. The placenta plays a central role in producing the appropriate steroids to support the pregnancy by coordinating its own steroidogenic activity with that of the corpus luteum and responding to foetal signals. Although much is known about the steroidogenic potential of the bovine placenta, far less is known about how the placenta integrates the synthesis of steroids with their subsequent metabolism and clearance to achieve appropriate local and peripheral concentrations of steroids in maternal and foetal blood at each stage of gestation. This review focuses on the current knowledge of the temporal and spatial regulation and compartmentalization of the biochemical pathways by which potent steroid hormones are synthesized and metabolized in the bovine placenta. The aim is to increase our understanding of how the balance of synthesis and metabolism determines placental steroid output as it changes with development and differentiation, and how this is regulated in response to the variations in the foetal signals and luteal secretory activity. The review highlights knowledge gaps and suggests that mathematical modelling can help understand the effect of different levels of regulation on the steroidogenic output of an organ, such as the bovine placenta.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)239-254
Number of pages16
JournalMolecular Reproduction and Development
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 2012

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Genetics
  • Developmental Biology
  • Cell Biology


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