Aim: In premenopausal women, hyper-androgenicity is associated with central obesity and an increased cardiovascular risk. We investigated the effects of dydrogesterone (DYD)(a non-androgenic progestogen) and norethisterone (NET)(an androgenic progestogen) on lipoprotein lipase (LPL), hormone-sensitive lipase (HSL) and glycerol release in adipocytes isolated from subcutaneous abdominal adipose tissue. Methods: Adipose tissue was obtained from 12 non-diabetic women, mean age 51 years (range 37-78) and mean BMI 25.4kg/m2 (range 20.3-26.4). Adipocytes were treated with increasing doses of DYD and NET for 48 hours prior to protein extraction. Effects on lipogenesis and lipolysis were assessed using western blotting to determine the expression of key enzymes, LPL (56kDa) and HSL (84kDa) respectively. Measurement of glycerol release into the medium provided an assessment of lipolytic activity. Results: Expression of LPL was increased by DYD and NET (mean protein expression relative to control ± SEM); with greatest effect at 10-8M for DYD: 2.32±0.51(p<0.01) and 10-8M for NET: 2.06±0.19(p<0.01). In contrast, HSL expression was reduced by all concentrations of DYD, with maximal effect at 10-9M: 0.49±0.02(p<0.001). NET reduced HSL expression at all concentrations from 10-9M: 0.62±0.06(p<0.001) to 10-7M: 0.69±0.08(p<0.001). Glycerol measurements supported the HSL expression studies(p>0.05). Conclusions: DYD and NET significantly increased LPL expression relative to control whilst significantly reducing HSL expression. At the concentrations studied, similar effects were observed with the androgenic NET and the non-androgenic DYD despite differing effects on the lipid profile when taken\ud in combination with estrogen. Further work in this area may improve knowledge about the effects of different progestogens on body fat distribution and enable progestogen use to be tailored to the individual to achieve maximal benefits
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