Progesterone: Mechanism of Action

  • B. W. O’Malley


In 1672, Regner de Graaf first published a description of the corpus luteum and recognized that the presence of a corpus luteum is associated with a fetus in utero. The definitive experiments of Comer (1), Allen and Reynolds (2) showed that pregnancy in rabbits is controlled by a product of the corpus luteum — the ovarian steroid progesterone. Nevertheless, at present there is no unifying concept which would define the major role of progesterone in animal tissues. Furthermore, the biochemical actions of this steroid at the molecular level of cell metabolism have been so elusive that it is difficult even to construct a good hypothetical mechanism of action. The biologic effects of progesterone may be grouped as follows: (1) uterine endometrial cells are transformed in such a way that they may receive the early embryo and facilitate its implantation; (2) myometric activity is suppressed, aiding in retention of the embryo during implantation and growth prior to normal parturition; (3) numerous and varied metabolic parameters may be altered which may have no direct impact on maintenance and termination of pregnancy.


Amino Acid Metabolism Myometrial Cell Uterine Muscle General Protein Synthesis Oviduct Tissue 
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Copyright information

© Plenum Press, New York 1969

Authors and Affiliations

  • B. W. O’Malley
    • 1
  1. 1.Endocrinology Branch, National Cancer InstituteNational Institutes of HealthMarylandUSA

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