Progesterone and its metabolites as therapeutic targets in psychiatric disorders
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INTRODUCTION: Neurosteroids are molecules that regulate physiological functions of the CNS. There is increasing evidence suggesting that impaired neurosteroid biosynthesis has been associated with distinct psychiatric disorders. This review summarizes data from studies that have investigated the relationship between progesterone (PROG) and psychiatric disorders as well as the mechanisms potentially involved in PROG-induced neuroprotection. AREAS COVERED: The review covers the role of PROG and its metabolites in psychiatric disorders, focusing on results from preclinical and some clinical studies that support the relationship between alterations on PROG levels and pathophysiology of psychiatric illness. We also discussed the main mechanisms underlying the neuroprotective effects of PROG metabolites. EXPERT OPINION: Our review points out the possible relationship between PROG and its metabolites and the pathophysiology of psychiatric disorders. Furthermore, both preclinical and clinical studies show that certain treatments (antidepressants or antipsychotics) may normalize the levels of PROG, suggesting that the amelioration of psychiatric symptoms may occur due to upregulation of PROG metabolites. Therefore, these results give support to new possibilities of treatment for patients with psychiatric symptoms from anxiety- and depressive-like behaviors to aggressive behaviors.
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