Pregnenolone part 1 – father of the steroid hormones

Cara Marshall

There is no doubt that an efficient hormonal system depends on good health. Unfortunately, hormonal imbalances are increasingly common in women as well as in men, and at an earlier age nowadays. This can be mainly attributed to problems with well-being and fertility, but the effects of hormone deficiency or dysbolaemia virtually affect the whole system.

    What is pregnenolone?

    Pregnenolon is a steroid compound that is made from cholesterol with a 20,22-desmolase enzyme located in the mitochondria. The whole process is an effect of stimulation by tropic hormones produced by the pituitary gland such as ACTH, LH and FSH. Its production occurs mainly in the gonads, adrenals and brain tissue [1], but can also be produced by salivary glands [2] and lymphocytes [3]. It’s a key element in the human hormone economy, as it produces sex hormones such as progesterone, estradiol, testosterone, as well as glucocorticoids and mineralocorticoids. The synthesis of virtually every steroid hormone in the body depends on the presence of this ingredient. It is also referred to as neurosteroid because of its effect on the nervous system. However, this topic will be discussed in more detail in the next section.

    Pregnenolone - chemical formula
    Pregnenolone - chemical formula

    By providing substrate, it is possible to increase the amount of all sex hormones in circulation.

    Pregnenolon is an element that appears in the synthesis route of each sex hormone, and its presence cannot be ignored. Therefore, its supplementation is a universal way to improve the overall health of the hormonal economy.

    To illustrate the route of the metabolism of sex hormones from pregnenolone, this simplified scheme can be depicted:

    Cholesterol → pregnenolone → progestogens (including progesterone) → androgens (testosterone and others) → oestrogens (including estradiol)

    Pregnenolone and hormone production

    This non-selective way to stimulate hormone production is particularly useful in a few specific cases in which suppression has subsided throughout the system. The most common indication for pregnenolone substitution is menopause, to replenish the hormonal losses associated with the natural aging of the body. You can improve your quality of life by increasing energy, improving sleep quality, improving bone strength and overall well-being.

    Men of advanced age also benefit from supplementation with pregnenolone, as the level decreases with the advancing span of life [4]. Thanks to it, you can potentially prevent testosterone drop and the decrease in sexual performance, which each man associates with mental discomfort. In addition to efficient erection you can also expect a surge of vital strength, improved body composition and better general health indicators.

    Increasingly frequent reasons for suppression of sex hormones are malnutrition, usually caused by chronic, deep-seated caloric deficiency. It may be especially severe to women whose menstrual cycle can disappear completely. In that situation, pregnenolone can be an effective support until it is able to nourish and rebuild the body and restore homeostasis.

    It’s also helpful to use pregnenolone in small doses even for relatively healthy people, who are subjected to heavy training, such as intensive athletes, whose increased amounts of hormones can bring many benefits, not only for sports but also for health.

    It’s also worth mentioning that using pregnenolone seems to be a safer way to support the hormone economy than the administration of ready-made final hormones such as testosterone, oestrogens or progesterone. By increasing substrate availability, we allow the body to decide where the hormone metabolism pathways will go, adapting their production to current needs.

    Pregnenolon can improve the health of people suffering from adrenal insufficiency and low levels of corticosteroids.

    Many people worry about excess cortisol, but real problems arise when we are short of it. With insufficient amounts of corticosteroids, our body can be taken over by inflammation that can continue to cause serious damage for a long time. Deregulation may also be subject to daily rhythms, which may be lacking in energy throughout the day, and the so far unknown force will pull us toward the bed.

    The substitution of pregnenolone can contribute to the growth of the missing cortisol and other adrenal hormones such as dehydroepiandrostron and minerolocorticoids, among which we distinguish the regulating aldosterone water management. The adrenal glands are one of the main glands in which pregnenolone is produced. By taking this steroid externally, we help relieve the adrenal glands, which is significant especially when we suffer from chronic mental or physical stress.

    Read more

    Be sure to check the second part of article regarding pregnenolone benefits and usages for your nervous system, and third part summarizing topic of pregnenolone.


    1) Monique Vallée Neurosteroids and potential therapeutics: Focus on pregnenolone

    2) Miyashita T et al. Pregnenolone biosynthesis in the rat salivary gland and its inhibitory effect on secretion. J Pharmacol Sci. 2011;115(1):56-62. Epub 2010 Dec 18.

    3) Bidesh Mahata et al. Single-Cell RNA Sequencing Reveals T Helper Cells Synthesizing Steroids De Novo to Contribute to Immune Homeostasis Cell Rep. 2014 May 22; 7(4): 1130–1142.

    4) Kuzina IN, Kilikovskiĭ VV, Smirnova OV. Age-related changes in blood concentration of hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis hormones, their central and peripheral regulators in healthy men. Fiziol Cheloveka. 2010 Sep-Oct;36(5):101-9.

    Tags: androgens, cholesterol, hormones, menopause, oestradiol, oestrogen, pregnenolone, progesterone, testosterone

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