Development and persistence of limbic epileptogenesis are impaired in mice lacking progesterone receptors.
Additional Document Info
Progesterone plays a key role in ovarian cycle-related synaptic plasticity and neuronal excitability. Progesterone receptors (PRs), which mediate the cellular actions of progesterone, are expressed in the hippocampus and other limbic regions, but their functional significance remains unknown. Here, we report a novel role of PRs as crucial mediators in the development of epileptogenesis, which is the process whereby a normal brain becomes progressively epileptic because of precipitating factors. The PR knock-out (PR(-/-)) mouse, which lacks both the PR-A and PR-B isoforms, exhibited an increased resistance to epileptogenesis in the hippocampus and amygdala kindling models. Lack of PRs markedly impaired the persistence of seizure expression at 4 weeks after kindling development. We further show that selective inhibition of PRs in the brain by antisense oligos or pharmacological blockade of PRs by RU-486 [11-[p-(dimethylamino)phenyl]-17-hydroxy-17-(1-propynyl)estra-4,9-dien-3-one] resulted in a significant decrease in epileptogenesis in wild-type (PR(+/+)) mice. The delayed epileptogenesis in PR knock-out mice was not substantially affected by inhibition of neurosteroid synthesis. Mice lacking PRs show supersensitivity to the antiseizure responses of progesterone. Collectively, these results suggest that PRs in the hippocampus are linked to signaling pathways that control susceptibility to epileptogenesis and possibly persistence of an epileptic-like state. The PR pathway may represent a unique target for preventing or retarding epileptogenesis in females.