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Papers of the Week

Papers: 30 Sep 2023 - 6 Oct 2023

2023 Sep 28

J Pain


Progesterone receptor activation regulates sensory sensitivity and migraine susceptibility.


Joshi S, Williamson J, Moosa S, Kapur J


Women develop chronic pain during their reproductive years more often than men, and estrogen and progesterone regulate this susceptibility. We tested whether brain progesterone receptor (PR) signaling regulates pain susceptibility. During the estrous cycle, animals were more sensitive to mechanical stimulus during the estrus stage than in the diestrus stage, suggesting a role for reproductive hormones, estrogen, and progesterone. Progesterone treatment of ovariectomized and estrogen-primed mice caused a delayed reduction in the mechanical threshold. Segesterone, a specific agonist of PRs replicated this effect, whereas, the segesterone-induced reduction in mechanical threshold was blocked in the mice lacking PRs in the nervous system. Segesterone treatment also did not alter mechanical threshold in adult male and juvenile female mice. PR activation increased the cold sensitivity but did not affect the heat and light sensitivity. We evaluated whether PR activation altered experimental migraine. Segesterone and nitroglycerin (NTG) when administered sequentially, reduced the pain threshold but not when given separately. PRs were expressed in several components of the migraine ascending pain pathway, and their deletion blocked the painful effects of NTG. PR activation also increased the number of active neurons in the components of the migraine ascending pain pathway. These studies have uncovered a pain-regulating function of PRs. Targeting PRs may provide a novel therapeutic avenue to treat chronic pain and migraine in women. PERSPECTIVE: This article provides evidence for the role of progesterone receptors in regulating pain sensitivity and migraine susceptibility in females. Progesterone receptors may be a therapeutic target to treat chronic pain conditions more prevalent in women than men.