Role of lipoproteins and 3-hydroxy-3-methylglutaryl coenzyme a reductase in progesterone production by cultured bovine granulosa cells

Naphtali Savion, Richard Laherty, David Cohen, Ge Ming Lui, Denis Gospodarowicz*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The relative contributions of lipoproteins and 3-hydroxy-3-methylglutaryl coenzyme A (HMG CoA) reductase to progesterone production by bovine granulosa cells exposed to plasma or liquor folliculi (LF) were studied. LF did not contain any very low density lipoprotein (VLDL), intermediate density lipoprotein (IDL), or low density lipoprotein (LDL). These lipoproteins were present in the plasma at concentrations of 92 jug protein/ml for VLDL and IDL together and 139 µg protein/ml for LDL. In contrast, high density lipoprotein (HDL) was present in LF at a concentration (763 µg protein/ml) that was 59% of that in plasma (1293 µg protein/ml). Bovine granulosa cells exposed to human plasma produce progesterone in response to dibutyryl cAMP. Sixty-three percent of the progesterone released by the cells was dependent on LDL but not HDL derived from human plasma. When cells were exposed to bovine plasma, 75% of the progesterone release was dependent on the presence of lipoproteins in the medium. Both LDL and HDL of bovine origin were able to support progesterone production, although LDL was effective at concentrations (on a molar basis) 20-fold lower than HDL. The LF was able to support progesterone production 45% as well as bovine plasma. The differences between the greater ability of the whole fractions and the lesser ability of their respective lipoprotein-deficient derivatives to support progesterone synthesis were 4-fold for bovine plasma, 2.7-fold for human plasma, and 1.7-fold for LF. The relative abilities of equivalent concentrations of LDL to restore the rate of progesterone synthesis seen in the lipoprotein-deficient fraction toward that seen in the whole fraction were greatest in the LF, intermediate in human plasma, and least in bovine plasma. These observations taken together suggest that the low level of support of progesterone synthesis that is offered by LF is due to its deficiency in LDL. HMG CoA reductase, the regulated and rate-limiting enzyme of cholesterol synthesis, was induced (2- to 3-fold) by dibutyryl cAMP and was suppressed by both human and bovine LDL and to a lesser extent by bovine HDL. Compactin, a competitive inhibitor of HMG CoA reductase, inhibited progesterone production relatively little when cells were exposed to complete plasma or LF. However, when cells were exposed to a lipoprotein-deficient bovine plasma or LF, compactin was very efficient in reducing (by 76%) progesterone release. Bovine granulosa cells exposed to plasma primarily use cholesterol derived from LDL in order to produce progesterone. Their ability to produce progesterone when exposed to LF was limited, and the cells were probably more dependent on de novo cholesterol synthesis than cells exposed to plasma. (Endocrinology 110: 13, 1982).

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)13-22
Number of pages10
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1982
Externally publishedYes


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