Enemies of the brain

Think of the brain of a man and a woman. It is known that there are anatomical and molecular differences between one and the other that can affect the way of thinking, acting and perceiving. That's where the women cry and talk more than men.

Scientists attribute such differences to the action of estradiol, the progesterone and the testosterone , that is, the hormones sexual, which are present in both men and women, but in different amounts.


Enemies of the brain

If the hormones Sexualities play different roles because the cells of certain organs contain "specific receptors" for each of them, which are basically proteins capable of receiving them, causing changes in the activity of those cells.

In his laboratory the Faculty of Chemistry of the UNAM, Dr. Ignacio Camacho and his research group detected receptors for the hormone progesterone in brain tumors called astrocytomas, as they are formed from astrocytes, cells that contribute to the functioning and communication of neurons.

Astrocytomas are the most frequent brain tumors in humans, especially in men, and also the most aggressive. They cause vomiting, headache, dizziness, including changes in brain abilities. In general, they are detected in advanced stages, when it is difficult for any treatment to help the patient. In this case, the life expectancy of the patient is maximum two years.

"Starting from the knowledge that sex hormones can participate in the development of breast cancer, we started an investigation with patients from the INational Institute of Neurology and Neurosurgery .

All of them presented astrocytomas in different degrees of evolution. In the tumors analyzed, we found two forms of the progesterone receptor protein, whose predominance depended on the degree of tumor evolution. This is relevant because depending on the shape of the receptor the effects of the hormone vary. "

In a second phase of the research, the expert in endocrinology and its collaborators made the cells of the tumors grow to the maximum and administered them progesterone in different concentrations.

"We observed that the hormone increased the number of cells, that is, stimulated the growth of tumors. But we also detected that a molecule we know as RU486 reduced the number of cells by blocking the effects of progesterone. "

Now, in collaboration with the doctor Mauricio Rodríguez, from the National Institute of Genomic Medicine , university researchers are characterizing the genes and proteins of cancer cells that are altered with both progesterone and the RU486 molecule.

Definitely, the best knowledge of the relationship between brain tumors and the hormone progesterone opens the possibility of having better therapies to combat them.

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