Access

You are not currently logged in.

Access your personal account or get JSTOR access through your library or other institution:

login

Log in to your personal account or through your institution.

If you need an accessible version of this item please contact JSTOR User Support

Boots for Achilles: Progesterone's Reduction of Cholesterol Is a Second-Order Adaptation

Dorsa Amir and Daniel M. T. Fessler
The Quarterly Review of Biology
Vol. 88, No. 2 (June 2013), pp. 97-116
DOI: 10.1086/670528
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/10.1086/670528
Page Count: 20
  • Get Access
  • Cite this Item
If you need an accessible version of this item please contact JSTOR User Support
Boots for Achilles: Progesterone's Reduction of Cholesterol Is a Second-Order Adaptation
Preview not available

Abstract

ABSTRACTProgesterone and cholesterol are both vital to pregnancy. Among other functions, progesterone downregulates inflammatory responses, allowing for maternal immune tolerance of the fetal allograft. Cholesterol, a key component of cell membranes, is important in intracellular transport, cell signaling, nerve conduction, and metabolism. Despite the importance of each substance in pregnancy, one exercises an antagonistic effect on the other, as periods of peak progesterone correspond with reductions in cholesterol availability, a consequence of progesterone's negative effects on cholesterol biosynthesis. This arrangement is understandable in light of the threat posed by pathogens early in pregnancy. Progesterone-induced immunomodulation entails increased vulnerability to infection, an acute problem in the first trimester, when fetal development is highly susceptible to insult. Many pathogens rely on cholesterol for cell entry, egress, and replication. Progesterone's antagonistic effects on cholesterol thus partially compensate for the costs entailed by progesterone-induced immunomodulation. Among pathogens to which the host's vulnerability is increased by progesterone's effects, approximately 90% utilize cholesterol, and this is notably true of pathogens that pose a risk during pregnancy. In addition to having a number of possible clinical applications, our approach highlights the potential importance of second-order adaptations, themselves a consequence of the lack of teleology in evolutionary processes.

Page Thumbnails

  • Thumbnail: Page 
1
    1
  • Thumbnail: Page 
2
    2
  • Thumbnail: Page 
3
    3
  • Thumbnail: Page 
4
    4
  • Thumbnail: Page 
5
    5
  • Thumbnail: Page 
6
    6
  • Thumbnail: Page 
7
    7
  • Thumbnail: Page 
8
    8
  • Thumbnail: Page 
9
    9
  • Thumbnail: Page 
10
    10
  • Thumbnail: Page 
11
    11
  • Thumbnail: Page 
12
    12
  • Thumbnail: Page 
13
    13
  • Thumbnail: Page 
14
    14
  • Thumbnail: Page 
15
    15
  • Thumbnail: Page 
16
    16
  • Thumbnail: Page 
17
    17
  • Thumbnail: Page 
18
    18
  • Thumbnail: Page 
19
    19
  • Thumbnail: Page 
20
    20