IL-1βUpregulates StAR and Progesterone Production Through the ERK1/2- and p38-Mediated CREB Signaling Pathways in Human Granulosa-Lutein Cells

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The proinflammatory cytokine interleukin-1β (IL-1β) may be involved in several ovulation-associated events, such as protease synthesis, prostaglandin production, and steroidogenesis in granulosa cells. However, the exact effect of IL-1β on progesterone synthesis in granulosa cells and the underlying mechanism remain unclear. By using cultured granulosa-lutein cells collected from women undergoing in vitro fertilization or intracytoplasmic sperm injection, we found that IL-1β upregulated steroidogenic acute regulatory protein (StAR) expression and progesterone synthesis in granulosa-lutein cells, which was comparable with luteinizing hormone effect and could be abolished by an IL-1 receptor antagonist. Moreover, IL-1β activated the phosphorylation of cyclic adenosine monophosphate response element-binding protein (CREB), and knockdown of CREB attenuated the induction of StAR expression and progesterone synthesis by IL-1β in granulosa-lutein cells. Furthermore, IL-1β activated the extracellular signal-regulated kinase (ERK)1/2 and p38 pathways and inhibition of the ERK1/2 and p38 pathways attenuated the IL-1β-induced phosphorylation of CREB, StAR expression, and progesterone synthesis in granulosa-lutein cells. In conclusion, IL-1β could upregulate StAR expression and stimulate progesterone biosynthesis through increase in CREB phosphorylation via activating the ERK1/2 and p38 pathways in human granulosa-lutein cells.

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