Binding of oral contraceptive progestogens to serum proteins and cytoplasmic receptor
Review articleOpen access

AbstractSome progestogens widely used in oral contraceptives are characterized at the level of high-affinity receptor binding as well as binding to sex hormone-binding globulin and corticosteroid-binding globulin. With regard to binding to sex hormone-binding globulin, gestodene, levonorgestrel, and to a lesser extent 3-ketodesogestrel (which is only formed from the prodrug desogestrel in the body), show a behavior that is manifested in the relatively high affinity to sex hormone-binding globulin, whereas desogestrel and norgestimate do not display any measurable affinity for this specific steroid-binding serum protein. Furthermore, levonorgestrel and gestodene dissociate very much more slowly from the binding sites of sex hormone-binding globulin than 3-ketodesogestrel. A natural affinity of all these synthetic progestogens tested for corticosteroid-binding globulin could not be established. Gestodene, levonorgestrel, and 3-ketodesogestrel bind to the progesterone, glucocorticoid, and androgen receptor with high affinity, apart from slight differences, whereas estrogen receptor affinity could not be demonstrated in any of the progestogens investigated. In relation to aldosterone, the relative binding affinity values of gestodene, levonorgestrel, and the natural progestogen progesterone are relatively high, whereas 3-ketodesogestrel does not display any measurable affinity for this receptor species.

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