Research Paper Volume 11, Issue 20 pp 9013—9024
Melatonin induces progesterone production in human granulosa-lutein cells through upregulation of StAR expression
- 1 Center for Reproductive Medicine, Henan Key Laboratory of Reproduction and Genetics, The First Affiliated Hospital of Zhengzhou University, Zhengzhou 450052, China
received: July 25, 2019 ; accepted: October 7, 2019 ; published: October 16, 2019 ;https://doi.org/10.18632/aging.102367
How to Cite
Copyright © 2019 Fang et al. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY 3.0), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.
Steroidogenic acute regulatory protein (StAR) mediates the rate-limiting step in ovarian steroidogenesis and progesterone (P4) synthesis. Melatonin and its receptors are expressed in human granulosa cells, and have been shown to influence basal P4 production. However, previous studies addressing the regulation of StAR expression by melatonin and its impact on P4 secretion yielded contradictory results. Here, we demonstrate that melatonin upregulates StAR expression in primary cultures of human granulosa-lutein (hGL) cells obtained from women undergoing in vitro fertilization (IVF). Using pharmacological inhibitors, we show that the stimulatory effect of melatonin on StAR expression is mediated via both MT1 and MT2 melatonin receptors. Melatonin exposure activates the PI3K/AKT signaling pathway and its inhibition attenuates the stimulatory effect of melatonin on StAR expression. Moreover, siRNA-mediated knockdown of StAR abolishes melatonin-induced P4 production. Importantly, clinical analyses demonstrate that melatonin levels in human follicular fluid are positively correlated with P4 levels in serum. By illustrating the potential physiological role of melatonin in the regulation of StAR expression and P4 production in hGL cells, our results may serve to improve current strategies used to treat clinical infertility.