Progesterone blocks cholesterol translocation from lysosomes

Jean D. Butler, Joan Blanchette-Mackie, Ehud Goldin, Raymond R. O'Neill, Gene Carstea, Calvin F. Roff, Marc C. Patterson, Shutish Patel, Marcella E. Comly, Adele Cooney, Marie T. Vanier, Roscoe O. Brady, Peter G. Pentchev

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

146 Scopus citations


Fluorescent microscopic examination of fibroblasts cultured with low density lipoprotein (LDL) and progesterone (10 μg/ml) for 24 h revealed extensive filipin-cholesterol staining of perinuclear lysosomes. Levels of unesterified cholesterol were 2-fold greater than in fibroblasts cultured with LDL alone. Progesterone strongly blocked cholesteryl ester synthesis. When cellular uptake of LDL was monitored in the presence of 58035, a specific inhibitor of acyl-CoA:cholesterol acyltransferase, excess unesterified cholesterol was not stored in lysosomes. Discontinuation of LDL uptake in conjunction with progesterone washout markedly reversed the filipin-cholesterol staining of lysosomes. Reversal of the lysosomal cholesterol lipidosis was associated with a rapid burst of cholesteryl ester synthesis and a normalization of the cellular levels of free and esterified cholesterol. In contrast to normal cells, progesterone removal from Niemann-Pick C fibroblasts did not reverse the lysosomal cholesterol accumulation of these mutant cultures. The metabolic precursor of progesterone, pregnenolone, also induced extensive accumulation of cholesterol in lysosomes. Other steroids induced less vacuolar cholesterol accumulation in the following decreasing order: corticosterone and testosterone, promegestone, RU 486. The relative inhibition of cellular cholesterol esterification by the steroids paralleled their respective abilities to sequester cholesterol in lysosomes rather than their inhibition of acyl-CoA:cholesterol acyltransferase activity in cell-free extracts. The progesterone-related inhibition and restoration of lysosomal cholesterol trafficking is a useful experimental means of studying intracellular cholesterol transport. A particularly important feature of its utility is the facile reversibility of the steroid-induced block. The lysosomal cholesterol lipidosis established with a hydrophobic amine, U18666A, was not as readily reversed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)23797-23805
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Biological Chemistry
Issue number33
StatePublished - Nov 25 1992

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Biology
  • Cell Biology


Dive into the research topics of 'Progesterone blocks cholesterol translocation from lysosomes'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this