Luteal Steroidogenesis

  • Holly A. LaVoieEmail author


Progesterone is the major functional steroid end product of the corpus luteum. In contrast to the ovarian follicle where mainly the theca cell layer could utilize cholesterol for de novo steroidogenesis, in the corpus luteum both the granulosa- and theca-derived luteal cells have this ability. This increased capacity for de novo steroidogenesis allows greater production of progesterone by the corpus luteum compared to the follicle. Luteinization, particularly of the follicular granulosa cells, is accompanied by a dramatic increase in the expression of genes and their corresponding proteins that mediate progesterone synthesis. The proteins include those involved in cholesterol transport, delivery of cholesterol into the inner mitochondria by steroidogenic acute regulatory protein, conversion of cholesterol to pregnenolone by the cytochrome P450 cholesterol side-chain cleavage complex, and conversion of pregnenolone to progesterone by 3-beta-hydroxysteroid dehydrogenase. Estrogen synthesis capability is lost in the corpora lutea of many species, but in some species such as primates and the pregnant rodent estrogen synthesis is reinitiated in luteal cells through renewed expression of aromatase. Androgen synthesis occurs in luteal cells of species where the corpus luteum makes estrogen and involves the enzymes cytochrome P450 17-alpha-hydroxylase/17, 20 lyase, and 17-beta-hydroxysteroid dehydrogenase. This chapter provides an overview of the hormonal and transcriptional regulation of the genes and proteins involved in luteal steroidogenesis.


Steroidogenesis Progesterone Pregnenolone Steroidogenic acute regulatory protein (STARD1) Cytochrome P450 cholesterol side-chain cleavage enzyme (CYP11A1) Cholesterol Low density lipoprotein High density lipoprotein 3-Beta-hydroxysteroid dehydrogenase (HSD3B) Cytochrome P450 17-alpha-hydroxylase/17 20 lyase (CYP17A1) 17-Beta-hydroxysteroid dehydrogenase (HSD17B) Aromatase (CYP19A1) Granulosa Theca Transcription factors Gene promoters Luteinizing hormone Human chorionic gonadotropin START domain proteins 


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© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Cell Biology and AnatomyUniversity of South Carolina School of MedicineColumbiaUSA

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