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Review Article

Steroidogenesis in luteal cell: A critical pathway for progesterone production


The ovarian cycle is central to the physiology of reproduction in most domestic mammals; characterized by repeated patterns of cellular proliferation, differentiation and transformation of ovarian steroidogenic cells (granulosa, theca and luteal cells) that accompany follicular development, ovulation followed by formation, function and regression of the corpus luteum. Luteal cells are the chief cells present in the corpus luteum. Steroid hormones are synthesized in the adrenal gland, gonads, and placenta critical for normal reproductive function. Steroidogenesis is the main process that occurs in luteal cells to produce the progesterone which is essential for the establishment and maintainance of pregnancy. Steroidogenic acute regulatory protein, Cytochrome P450 side chain cleavage enzyme and 3β hydroxyl steroid dehydrogenase enzyme are major regulators of steroidogenesis. Progesterone regulates the length of the estrous cycle by influencing the timing of the luteolytic PGF2α signal from the endometrium. Termination of estrous cycle is characterized by functional luteolysis and structural luteolysis. Functional luteolysis is due to regression of corpus luteum leading to loss of steroidogenic capacity. Finally luteal cell death and resorption makes the way to structural luteolysis. Therefore it is paramount to know the exact mechanism of progesterone production through steroidogensis in luteal cells. This review is to highlight the important steps of steroidogenesis process in luteal cells.

Key words: Luteal cell, steroidogenesis, progesterone, steroidogenic acute regulatory protein, Cytochrome P450 side chain cleavage enzyme, 3β hydroxyl steroid dehydrogenase enzyme

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Journal of Molecular Pathophysiology


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