Cellular and Molecular Neurobiology

, Volume 39, Issue 4, pp 551–568 | Cite as

Steroids in Stroke with Special Reference to Progesterone

  • Rachida GuennounEmail author
  • Xiaoyan Zhu
  • Magalie Fréchou
  • Pauline Gaignard
  • Abdelhamid Slama
  • Philippe Liere
  • Michael Schumacher
Review Paper


Both sex and steroid hormones are important to consider in human ischemic stroke and its experimental models. Stroke initiates a cascade of changes that lead to neural cell death, but also activates endogenous protective processes that counter the deleterious consequences of ischemia. Steroids may be part of these cerebroprotective processes. One option to provide cerebroprotection is to reinforce these intrinsic protective mechanisms. In the current review, we first summarize studies describing sex differences and the influence of steroid hormones in stroke. We then present and discuss our recent results concerning differential changes in endogenous steroid levels in the brains of male and female mice and the importance of progesterone receptors (PR) during the early phase after stroke. In the third part, we give an overview of experimental studies, including ours, that provide evidence for the pleiotropic beneficial effects of progesterone and its promising cerebroprotective potential in stroke. We also highlight the key role of PR signaling as well as potential additional mechanisms by which progesterone may provide cerebroprotection.


Cerebral ischemia Sex differences Progesterone receptors Aging Cerebroprotection Neuroprotection 


Author Contributions

All authors contributed in this work. RG designed, wrote the first draft of the manuscript, revised and edited the manuscript. XZ prepared the figures and revised critically the manuscript. MF revised critically the manuscript. PG revised critically the manuscript. AS revised critically the manuscript. PL revised critically the manuscript. MS revised critically the manuscript.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.


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© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.U1195 Inserm and University Paris-Sud and University Paris-SaclayLe Kremlin-BicêtreFrance
  2. 2.Biochemistry Laboratory, Bicêtre HospitalAssistance Publique-Hôpitaux de ParisLe Kremlin-BicêtreFrance
  3. 3.College of Veterinary MedicineNorthwest A&F UniversityYanglingChina

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