Indexed on: 27 Jan '09Published on: 27 Jan '09Published in: European Journal of Pharmacology
The endogenous progesterone metabolite allopregnanolone has a number of properties including anesthetic, sedative, antiepileptic, anxiolytic, impaired memory function and negative mood symptoms. Allopregnanolone is a potent positive GABA(A) receptor function modulators. In contrast, 3beta-hydroxy-steroids (3beta-steroids) usually modulate the GABA(A) receptor negatively. They have attracted some interest for their possible use as therapeutic agents that could counteract the negative symptoms induced by allopregnanolone. Two hypotheses for the action of 3beta-steroids have been proposed: 1) 3beta-steroids act in a similar way to pregnenolone sulphate, which non-competitively reduces GABA(A) receptor activity. 2) 3beta-steroids specifically antagonize the effect of allopregnanolone. We have therefore tried to clarify this issue by comparing the effect of pregnenolone sulphate and 5beta-pregnane-3beta, 20(R)-diol on the GABA-evoked currents by the patch clamp technique on neurons from the medial preoptic nucleus. Both pregnenolone sulphate and 5beta-pregnane-3beta, 20(R)-diol increase the desensitization rate of the current response evoked by a 2 s GABA application. However, their effects on other parameters of the GABA evoked currents differed in degree and sometimes even in direction. The actions of pregnenolone sulphate and 5beta-pregnane-3beta, 20(R)-diol were not altered in the presence of allopregnanolone, which indicates that they do not directly interact with allopregnanolone. In addition, when 5beta-pregnane-3beta, 20(R)-diol was tested on spontaneous inhibitory postsynaptic currents (sIPSCs), it dramatically reduced the allopregnanolone-induced prolongation of the decay time constant but it had no effect on the decay under control conditions. In conclusion, the effect of 5beta-pregnane-3beta, 20(R)-diol on GABA-evoked currents is different to that of pregnenolone sulphate in medial preoptic nucleus neurons.