Activation of Enteroendocrine Membrane Progesterone Receptors Promotes Incretin Secretion and Improves Glucose Tolerance in Mice

  1. Daniel J. Drucker
  1. Department of Medicine, Institute of Medical Sciences, Samuel Lunenfeld Research Institute, University of Toronto, Toronto, Ontario, Canada
  1. Corresponding author: Daniel J. Drucker, d.drucker{at}


Glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1) secretion is classically regulated by ingested nutrients. To identify novel molecular targets controlling incretin secretion, we analyzed enteroendocrine cell pathways important for hormone biosynthesis and secretion. We demonstrate that progesterone increases GLP-1 secretion and extracellular signal–related kinase 1/2 (ERK1/2) phosphorylation in enteroendocrine GLUTag cells via mechanisms sensitive to the mitogen-activated protein kinase inhibitor U0126. The stimulatory effects of progesterone (P4) or the synthetic progestin R5020 on ERK1/2 phosphorylation were independent of the classical progesterone receptor antagonist RU486. Furthermore, a cell-impermeable BSA–progesterone conjugate rapidly increased ERK1/2 phosphorylation and GLP-1 secretion. Knockdown of the membrane progesterone receptors Paqr5 or Paqr7 in GLUTag cells eliminated the stimulatory effect of R5020 and progesterone on GLP-1 secretion. Enteral progesterone administration increased plasma levels of GLP-1, glucose-dependent insulinotropic polypeptide (GIP), and insulin, and improved oral glucose tolerance in an RU486-insensitve manner in mice: however, systemic progesterone exposure did not improve glucose homeostasis. Unexpectedly, the glucoregulatory actions of enteral progesterone did not require classical incretin receptor signaling and were preserved in Glp1r−/− and Glp1r−/−:Gipr−/− mice. Intestine-restricted activation of membrane progesterone receptors may represent a novel approach for stimulation of incretin hormone secretion and control of glucose homeostasis.


  • Received May 9, 2012.
  • Accepted June 28, 2012.

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