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Papers of the Week

Papers: 19 Aug 2023 - 25 Aug 2023

Basic Science

Animal Studies, Molecular/Cellular, Neurobiology, Pharmacology/Drug Development

Acute Pain

2023 Aug 07



Progesterone receptor activation regulates sensory sensitivity.


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 pain during the estrus stage than in the diestrus stage, suggesting a role for reproductive hormones, estrogen, and progesterone. We measured the pain threshold daily for four days in ovariectomized, estrogen-primed animals treated with progesterone. The pain threshold was lower 2 days later and stayed that way for the duration of the testing. A specific progesterone-receptor (PR) agonist, segesterone, promoted pain, and mice lacking PR in the brain (PRKO) did not experience lowered pain threshold when treated with progesterone or segesterone. PR activation increased the cold sensitivity but did not affect the heat sensitivity and had a small effect on light sensitivity. Finally, we evaluated whether PR activation altered experimental migraine. Segesterone and nitroglycerin (NTG) when administered sequentially, reduced pain threshold but not separately. These studies have uncovered a pain-regulating function of PRs. Targeting PRs may provide a novel therapeutic avenue to treat chronic pain in women.