Got to do something on this thread......
Long post though....
Another thread referenced The Myelin Project’s proposed research on progesterone, so I thought it was timely to post some information on that “hormone”.
While both of my trusty “hormone” books state progesterone is protective for myelin, the book on “What Your Doctor May Not Tell You About Menopause” by John Lee, also gives more information about reasons for pursuing research on progesterone and myelin.
1. The French professor (Etienne-Emile Baulieu) who will be one of the parties in The Myelin Project’s research on progesterone is credited with the discovery that progesterone is synthesized from Schwann cells within the central and peripheral nervous system, making it a “neurosteroid”.
2. He also discovered that progesterone promotes myelin repair.
3. Progesterone appears to give Schwann cells the ability to continually maintain the myelin sheath. “In fact, the Schwann cell itself makes progesterone for this function. Recent research shows that anything that interferes with progesterone receptors in Schwann cells stops the production of protective myelin.” (p. 99)
4. Progesterone is now in clinical trials as a possible treatment for moderate to severe brain injuries.
Now, for other stuff. It’s my understanding the rise and fall of progesterone levels in pregnancy somewhat mirror those of estriol.
That is, progesterone rises during pregnancy (when women have a tendency to have fewer MS relapses, and, drops after birth, (when women tend to experience relapses). In women of child-bearing age, progesterone also declines cyclically on a monthly basis, and it declines as well in older women experiencing perimenopause and menopause. Again, times when the limited bits of research would suggest that women may also experience a “worsening” of MS symptoms.
Now, here’s some of the very limited research on progesterone and MS. Since titles often tell me as much as I can understand, I’ll start with those. For anyone interested in the full abstract or article, I’ve listed the Pub Med number.
1. Estrogen and progesterone modulate monocyte cell cycle progression and apoptosis
, by Thongngarm et al at the University of Mississippi Medical Center, who conclude: Sex steroid-induced effect on cell cycle transition and apoptosis are potential mechanisms by which pregnancy-induced cell-mediated immune suppression may occur
. (PMID 12797519).
2. Progesterone inhibits glucocorticoid-induced murine thymocyte apoptosis
, by McMurray, RW also in Mississippi. Sex and sex hormones modulate immune development and responses……These results suggest that anti-apoptotic effects of progesterone may influence T cell development and subsequent immune response
. (PMID 11090704)
3. MRI in MS during the menstrual cycle: relationship with sex hormone patterns
by Pozzilli et al in Italy. The ratio of progesterone/17-beta-estradiol
during the luteal phase was significantly associated with both number and volume of enhancing lesions,
providing support for a role of these hormones as immunomodulatory factors in MS. (PMID 10449131)
4. Correlation between sex hormones and magnetic resonance imaging lesions in MS,
by Bansil et al, New Jersey. Conclusion: Estradiol and progesterone may influence disease activity in MS. If further studies confirm these results, it may be possible to develop therapy by altering levels of these hormones
Now, just to make it all very confusing, the NMSS link on “Gender Gap Reaches Brain Cells” reports that the New Jersey colleagues
have found that estrogen but not progesterone or the male hormone testosterone, can increase the proliferation (growth and expansion) of immature cells capable of maturing and making new myelin.
All I can say is that my reading about hormones in general is that progesterone and estrogen have sort of a ying and yang relationship.
And, I will be writing to The Myelin Project asking them to please consider doing their research with bioidentical progesterone, not the derived progestin. All of my reading so far indicates that these hormones have a “lock and key” relationship and that synthetic progesterone, i.e, progestin, may not quite cut it. Just as they can’t patent estriol, I don’t think the drug companies could patent bioidentical progesterone.
Does anyone else have comments or information on progesterone and MS?
On a personal note, I’m waiting to get the results of my hormone level tests for estriol, estradiol, progesterone, testosterone, DHEA and cortisol. What a trip!