The enantiomer of progesterone acts as a molecular neuroprotectant after traumatic brain injury

Jacob W. VanLandingham, Sarah M. Cutler, Sharad Virmani, Stuart W. Hoffman, Douglas F. Covey, Kathiresan Krishnan, Stephen R. Hammes, Michelle Jamnongjit, Donald G. Stein

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

71 Scopus citations


Previous work shows that neurosteroid enantiomers activate specific molecular receptors that relay neuroprotection. However, the actions of the enantiomer of progesterone (ent-PROG) at the PROG receptor (PR) are unknown. PR binding and transcriptional assays were performed to determine the actions of ent-PROG at the classical PR. Additionally, the neuroprotective effects of ent-PROG in traumatic brain injury (TBI) were investigated and compared to the actions of PROG and its metabolite allopregnanolone (ALLO), both of which have been shown to have neuroprotective properties when given after TBI. Binding studies performed in COS cells over-expressing the PR showed that ent-PROG inhibited PROG binding to the PR. In contrast, ent-PROG did not activate PR-mediated transcription. Rats received bilateral medial frontal cortex injury followed by treatments at 1, 6, 24 and 48 h with PROG, ALLO or ent-PROG. Brains were processed for edema, protein and enzyme activity. ent-PROG treatment in vivo decreased cerebral edema, cell death mediators, inflammatory cytokines, and reactive gliosis, and increased antioxidant activity. These findings suggest that the progestin-mediated pro-survival response seen with TBI is regulated either independently of the classical PR or via nongenomic PR-regulated actions.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1078-1085
Number of pages8
Issue number6
StatePublished - Nov 2006


  • Allopregnanolone
  • Enantiomer
  • Neuroprotection
  • Progesterone
  • Progesterone receptor
  • Traumatic brain injury


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