Rapid augmentation by progesterone of agonist-stimulated Luteinizing hormone secretion by cultured pituitary cells

Judith L Turgeon, D. W. Waring

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

62 Scopus citations


Progesterone acts bimodally at the hypothalamus and at the pituitary gland, the sequelae in vivo being either stimulation or inhibition of gonadotropin secretion depending on a host of preconditions. Pituitary cells in culture were studied to characterize the acute action of progesterone on LH secretion. Preliminary studies established that anterior pituitary cells from adult female rats cultured for three days in 10% charcoal treated fetal bovine serum (c/t FBS) resulted in LH secretory responses to GnRH pulses which were half that for cells cultured in untreated FBS or c/t FBS + 0.2 nM 17β-estradiol (E2). Under standardized culture conditions (c/t FBS + E2), GnRH self-potentiation was evident. With this system, 90 min exposure to 200 nM progesterone resulted in a 3-fold augmentation of GnRH-stimulated LH secretion without affecting baseline LH. This action was manifested by 45 but not 15 min of progesterone exposure and was inhibited by simultaneous addition of cycloheximide. The augmentation of agonist-stimulated LH release could be elicited up to 4-5 h after progesterone addition. The estimated half-maximal effect was 10-9 M, and this concentration of progesterone required E2-pretreatment of the cultured cells. In summary, addition of progesterone to cultured anterior pituitary cells pretreated with E2 leads to a concentration-, time-, and protein synthesis-dependent augmentation of pulsatile GnRH-stimulated LH secretion within 45 rain of progesterone exposure. This rapid and unambiguous progesterone action in pituitary cells could function in vivo to define the final magnitude of the preovulatory LH surge.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)773-780
Number of pages8
Issue number2
StatePublished - Aug 1990

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Endocrinology
  • Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism


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