Endocrine and molecular mechanisms involved in the formation of corpus luteum and luteolysis: a review
AbstractThe corpus luteum (CL) is a transitory endocrinal structure formed by steroidogenic small luteal cells (SLC) and large luteal cells (LLC) that associated with fibroblast and a wide web of capillaries form a structure specialized in synthesis of progesterone (P4). In general, for the synthesis of P4 in the steroidogenic luteal cells, cholesterol joints specific receptors on the cellular membrane and is transported to the cytosol. Later, cholesterol goes to an internal mitochondrial membrane and by the action of the enzyme P450scc is transformed into pregnenolone. In the smooth endoplasmic reticulum pregnenolone is converted to P4 by the enzyme 3²-hydroxysteroid dehydrogenase (3²-HSD). The steroidogenic acute regulatory protein (StAR), the peripheral benzodiazepine receptor (PBR) and endozepine participate in the transport of cholesterol to the different mitochondrial compartments. Therefore, it is supposed that the capacity of synthesis of P4 in the CL is related to the cellular concentration of receptors that catch cholesterol, to the enzymes P450scc and 3²-HSD and to the cholesterol cellular transport proteins. In bovine, the LLC are responsible for more than 80% of P4 production in the CL. The lowest concentration of cholesterol transport proteins in the mitochondria seems to limit the synthesis of P4 in the SLC. P4 supports a proper uterine environment for the development of conceptuses, depending on the specie. In most species, the lack of fertilization or the conceptus incapacity to signalize its presence in the uterus establishes luteolysis. This physiological event is characterized by the functional and structural regression of the CL. For the establishment and maintenance of pregnancy it is necessary to block luteolysis through different mechanisms among species. In primates and equids it occurs by the secretion of specific gonadotropins and in ruminants by antiluteolytic factors. This review has the objective to characterize the endocrine and molecular mechanisms involved in the formation of the corpus luteum and luteolysis.
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