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Cortisol May Block Breakdown of Corpus Luteum

May act through glucocorticoid receptors

MONDAY, Dec. 10 (HealthDay News) -- Locally generated cortisol may act on the corpus luteum through glucocorticoid receptors and block luteolysis during maternal recognition of pregnancy, researchers report in the December issue of Endocrinology.

Michelle Myers and colleagues from the Queens Institute of Medical Research in Edinburgh, United Kingdom, measured glucocorticoid-metabolizing enzymes (11-beta-hydroxysteroid dehydrogenase types 1 and 2) and the glucocorticoid receptor in human corpora lutea and cultures of luteinized granulosa cells.

The researchers found that both 11-beta-hydroxysteroid dehydrogenase isoenzymes and glucocorticoid receptor were expressed in corpora lutea. The type 1 enzyme was upregulated while the type 2 enzyme was downregulated after treatment with human chorionic gonadotropin. Cortisol increased the survival of lutenized granulosa cells after treatment with RU486 and blocked the activity of an enzyme associated with luteolysis.

"Our results suggest that, rather than during luteolysis, it is luteal rescue with human chorionic gonadotropin that is associated with increased local cortisol generation by 11-beta-hydroxysteroid dehydrogenase type 1," Myers and colleagues conclude. "Locally generated cortisol may therefore act on the human corpus luteum through glucocorticoid receptor to have a luteotropic role in the regulation of luteal tissue remodeling during maternal recognition of pregnancy."

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