Reevaluating the Role of Progesterone in Ovarian Cancer: Is Progesterone Always Protective?

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

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Ovarian cancer (OC) represents a collection of rare but lethal gynecologic cancers where the difficulty of early detection due to an often-subtle range of abdominal symptoms contributes to high fatality rates. With the exception of BRCA1/2 mutation carriers, OC most often manifests as a postmenopausal disease, a time in which the ovaries regress and circulating reproductive hormones diminish. Progesterone is thought to be a “protective” hormone that counters the proliferative actions of estrogen, as can be observed in the uterus or breast. Like other steroid hormone receptor family members, the transcriptional activity of the nuclear progesterone receptor (nPR) may be ligand dependent or independent and is fully integrated with other ubiquitous cell signaling pathways often altered in cancers. Emerging evidence in OC models challenges the singular protective role of progesterone/nPR. Herein, we integrate the historical perspective of progesterone on OC development and progression with exciting new research findings and critical interpretations to help paint a broader picture of the role of progesterone and nPR signaling in OC. We hope to alleviate some of the controversy around the role of progesterone and give insight into the importance of nPR actions in disease progression. A new perspective on the role of progesterone and nPR signaling integration will raise awareness to the complexity of nPRs and nPR-driven gene regulation in OC, help to reveal novel biomarkers, and lend critical knowledge for the development of better therapeutic strategies.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1029-1046
Number of pages18
JournalEndocrine reviews
Issue number6
StatePublished - Dec 1 2023

Bibliographical note

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© 2023 Endocrine Society. All rights reserved.


  • BRCA1/2
  • fallopian tube
  • ovarian cancer
  • progesterone
  • progesterone receptor
  • transcription


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