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Novel receptor targets for production and action of allopregnanolone in the central nervous system: a focus on pregnane xenobiotic receptor.

Authors
  • Frye, Cheryl A
  • Koonce, Carolyn J
  • Walf, Alicia A
Type
Published Article
Journal
Frontiers in Cellular Neuroscience
Publisher
Frontiers Media SA
Publication Date
Jan 01, 2014
Volume
8
Pages
106–106
Identifiers
DOI: 10.3389/fncel.2014.00106
PMID: 24782710
Source
Medline
Keywords
License
Unknown

Abstract

Neurosteroids are cholesterol-based hormones that can be produced in the brain, independent of secretion from peripheral endocrine glands, such as the gonads and adrenals. A focus in our laboratory for over 25 years has been how production of the pregnane neurosteroid, allopregnanolone, is regulated and the novel (i.e., non steroid receptor) targets for steroid action for behavior. One endpoint of interest has been lordosis, the mating posture of female rodents. Allopregnanolone is necessary and sufficient for lordosis, and the brain circuitry underlying it, such as actions in the midbrain ventral tegmental area (VTA), has been well-characterized. Published and recent findings supporting a dynamic role of allopregnanolone are included in this review. First, contributions of ovarian and adrenal sources of precursors of allopregnanolone, and the requisite enzymatic actions for de novo production in the central nervous system will be discussed. Second, how allopregnanolone produced in the brain has actions on behavioral processes that are independent of binding to steroid receptors, but instead involve rapid modulatory actions via neurotransmitter targets (e.g., γ-amino butyric acid-GABA, N-methyl-D-aspartate- NMDA) will be reviewed. Third, a recent focus on characterizing the role of a promiscuous nuclear receptor, pregnane xenobiotic receptor (PXR), involved in cholesterol metabolism and expressed in the VTA, as a target for allopregnanolone and how this relates to both actions and production of allopregnanolone will be addressed. For example, allopregnanolone can bind PXR and knocking down expression of PXR in the midbrain VTA attenuates actions of allopregnanolone via NMDA and/or GABAA for lordosis. Our understanding of allopregnanolone's actions in the VTA for lordosis has been extended to reveal the role of allopregnanolone for broader, clinically-relevant questions, such as neurodevelopmental processes, neuropsychiatric disorders, epilepsy, and aging.

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