The research interests of the laboratory of Clinical and Molecular Endocrinology of Human Reproduction centers on the control of steroid hormones synthesis, specifically, by the human ovarian follicle and corpus luteum. On-going research works include intracellular sterol transfer through the cytoplasm and intra-mitochondrial sterol translocation.
The cellular and molecular mechanisms involved in critical biological events of the human ovary such us ovulation, corpus luteum function’s at the time of implantation, luteal regression and rescue in the conceptional cycle are poorly understood. Thus, the aim of this project is to elucidate the intracellular mechanisms and signal cascades driven steroid hormones biosynthesis in the human ovary.
Our group has recently described the physiological importance of the Steroidogenic Acute Regulatory Protein (StAR) in the human corpus luteum. StAR is the rate limited-step in steroid hormones biosynthesis in the human corpus luteum steroidogenesis. Human theca and granulose lutein cell cultures serve as a model to explore the role of specific proteins. Northern blot, RT-PCR, Western blot, immunohistochemestry, immunofluorescence, in - situ hybridization and high-resolution electron microscopy are being used to test our hypotheses. In addition, high-resolution 2D gel electrophoresis and immune- precipitation are using to examine the phosphorylation patterns of the proteins involved in the signaling cascade.
As an applied research the group is conducting basic clinical trials in the polycystic ovary syndrome with the aim to understand abnormal ovarian steroidogenesis of these patients and in normal women in order to improve our understanding underlying the mechanisms of action of the present endocrine options in emergency contraception.