The Pleiotropic Nature of Progesterone When Used to Treat TBI

The most damage from a TBI does not come from the injury itself but from the secondary consequences. Learn how progesterone can help because of its pleotrphic nature.

See more videos with Dr. David Wright.

A traumatic brain injury is not just the initial event. In fact, probably most of the poor outcome that occurs in an individual occurs after the initial injury. If you survive your traumatic brain injury, it's the secondary consequences that set off a whole host of events and things that occur-- what we term the 'neurotoxic cascade.' It's that neurotoxic cascade that begins to kill productive neurons and other connections in the brain that weren't initially injured. That causes the injury to grow and the outcome to the individual to be worse. That's critically important for us, and it was really only discovered about 15 or 20 years ago. It's important primarily because now it gives us targets to be able to go after and potentially improve the outcome after a severe head injury. We have now learned that it's very complex. It's not just one receptor. It's not just one pathway. It's hundreds of different pathways that are involved in that process. Part of that realization is that targeted therapy-- blocking one single receptor and hoping that it will work and improve functional outcome after traumatic brain injury--is somewhat naive. What really needs to be done is you need to block multiple receptors or multiple pathways to be effective in the human model of TBI. The beauty behind progesterone is that it's what we call pleiotropic-- it works in many different areas all at once. It's essentially a drug cocktail all in one, developed by Mother Nature, by God, for this purpose. And so, that pleiotropic nature allows it to be more robust than some of the other targeted therapies that were tried before. Which is why we hope that finally we've found something that-- when we take it to human clinical trials--it will work.
Posted on BrainLine October 25, 2012. Reviewed July 25, 2018.

Produced by Victoria Tilney McDonough, Ashley Gilleland, Justin Rhodes, and Erica Queen, BrainLine.