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Neuropharmacology

Effects of some neurosteroids injected into some brain areas of WAG/Rij rats, an animal model of generalized absence epilepsy.


PMID 16631210

Abstract

Neurosteroids are synthesized in the brain and have been demonstrated to modulate various cerebral functions. Allopregnanolone (3alpha-hydroxy-5alpha-pregnan-20-one), a naturally occurring neurosteroid, and ganaxolone (3alpha-hydroxy-3beta-methyl-5alpha-pregnan-20-one), a synthetic derivative, are two neurosteroids acting as positive allosteric modulators of the GABA(A) receptor complex acting on a specific steroid recognition site. Both agents antagonize generalized tonic-clonic seizures in various animal models of epilepsy. Pregnenolone sulphate (3beta-hydroxy-5alpha-pregnen-20-one 3-sulphate; PS) is a negative allosteric modulator of GABA(A) receptors and a positive modulator of the NMDA receptors. We have evaluated the effects of such compounds in a genetic animal model of absence epilepsy, the WAG/Rij rat. Animals were chronically implanted with five frontoparietal cortical electrodes for electrocorticogram (EEG) recordings and bilateral guide cannulae into specific brain areas of the cortico-thalamic circuit in order to evaluate the effects of these compounds on the number and duration of epileptic spike-wave discharges (SWDs). The focal and bilateral microinjection of the two GABA(A) positive modulators into some thalamic nuclei (nucleus ventralis posteromedialis, nucleus reticularis thalami, nucleus ventralis posterolateralis was usually able to significantly worsen the occurrence of SWDs in WAG/Rij rats. Whereas both compounds were able to reduce the number and duration of SWDs when microinjected into the peri-oral region of the primary somatosensory cortex. The effects of PS were more complex depending on both the dose and the site of administration, generally, at low doses in thalamic nuclei and cortex, PS induced an increase of absence activity and a reduction at higher doses. These findings suggest that neurosteroids might play a role in absence epilepsies and that it might depend on the involvement of specific neuronal areas.

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