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Oligodendrocytes are the myelinating cells of the central nervous system (CNS). These cells arise during the embryonic development by the specification of the neural stem cells to oligodendroglial progenitor cells (OPC); newly formed OPC proliferate, migrate, differentiate, and mature to myelinating oligodendrocytes in the perinatal period. It is known that progesterone promotes the proliferation and differentiation of OPC in early postnatal life through the activation of the intracellular progesterone receptor (PR). Progesterone supports nerve myelination after spinal cord injury in adults. However, the role of progesterone in embryonic OPC differentiation as well as the specific PR isoform involved in progesterone actions in these cells is unknown. By using primary cultures obtained from the embryonic mouse spinal cord, we showed that embryonic OPC expresses both PR-A and PR-B isoforms. We found that progesterone increases the proliferation, differentiation, and myelination potential of embryonic OPC through its PR by upregulating the expression of oligodendroglial genes such as neuron/glia antigen 2 (NG2), sex determining region Y-box9 (SOX9), myelin basic protein (MBP), 2',3'-cyclic-nucleotide 3'-phosphodiesterase (CNP1), and NK6 homeobox 1 (NKX 6.1). These effects are likely mediated by PR-B, as they are blocked by the silencing of this isoform. The results suggest that progesterone contributes to the process of oligodendrogenesis during prenatal life through specific activation of PR-B.


Juan Carlos González-Orozco, Aylin Del Moral-Morales, Ignacio Camacho-Arroyo. Progesterone through Progesterone Receptor B Isoform Promotes Rodent Embryonic Oligodendrogenesis. Cells. 2020 Apr 14;9(4)

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PMID: 32295179

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