Author(s): Van Look PF, von Hertzen H
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Abstract Antiprogestogens, which block the action of progesterone at the cellular level through binding to the progesterone receptor, are proving to be one of the most significant developments in endocrinology in recent years. Several hundreds of such compounds have been synthesized, but only a few of them have been evaluated to any significant extent in biological screening models and, to our knowledge, only three compounds, namely mifepristone, lilopristone (ZK 98.734) and onapristone (ZK 98.299) have been given to humans. Most of the clinical research to date has focused on the use of mifepristone given in combination with prostaglandin for termination of early pregnancy, an indication for which the compound is being used routinely in four countries so far, i.e. China, France, the UK and Sweden. The gynaecological and obstetrical applications in which antiprogestogens have been shown to be of value to date include ripening of the pregnant cervix prior to pregnancy termination, sensitization of the uterus to prostaglandins in second-trimester abortion, and induction of labour. Available data suggest that antiprogestogens have no place in the conservative treatment of ectopic pregnancy or in the treatment of premenstrual tension. In fertility regulation, the sequential combination regimen of mifepristone plus prostaglandin as used for inducing abortion has proved to be effective also for menses induction and can be expected to be an efficacious once-a-month contraceptive. Mifepristone alone, without adjuvant prostaglandin, has yielded promising results as an anti-implantation agent and in emergency contraception. Other potential uses include once-a-week contraception, ovulation inhibition (in a sequential regimen with a progestogen), and as a daily mini-pill. Mifepristone, and other antiprogestogens for which biological data have been reported also bind to the cellular receptors for glucocorticoid hormones and, consequently, possess antiglucocorticoid in addition to their antiprogestational activity. Because of this antiglucocorticoid effect, mifepristone has been employed successfully in the palliative treatment of hypercortisolism due to Cushing's syndrome, and its use has been proposed for treating certain forms of depression and of glaucoma, and in wound healing. However, for scientific and practical reasons, it would be preferable if molecules were developed that have only the antiprogestational or the antiglucocorticoid activity rather than both.
This article was published in Hum Reprod Update
and referenced in Journal of Addiction Research & Therapy