Neuroactive steroids inhibit spinal reflex potentiation by selectively enhancing specific spinal GABAA receptor subtypes

Hsien Yu Peng, Gin Den Chen, Shin Da Lee, Cheng Yuan Lai, Chun Hsien Chiu, Chen Li Cheng, Yu Shuo Chang, Ming Chun Hsieh, Kwong Chung Tung, Tzer Bin Lin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

41 Citations (Scopus)


Recently, we demonstrated a spinal GABAA receptor (GABAAR)-dependent inhibition on the induction of repetitive stimulation-induced spinal reflex potentiation. However, it remains unclear whether steroid hormones modulate such an inhibition. Here, we show that progesterone is capable of producing GABAARs-dependent inhibition of the induction of spinal reflex potentiation by actions through neurosteroid metabolites. Progesterone (5 mg/kg, twice daily for 4 days) up-regulates the expression of GABAAR α2, α3, α4 and δ subunits, and is associated with attenuated repetitive stimulation-induced spinal reflex activity in ovariectomized rats. These changes were blocked by finasteride (50 mg/kg, twice daily), an antagonist of neurosteroid synthesis from progesterone, but not by the progesterone receptor antagonist, RU486 (100 mg/kg, twice daily). The induction of spinal reflex potentiation was attenuated after a short (30 min) intrathecal treatment with the neurosteroids, allopregnanolone (ALLOP, 10 μM, 10 μL) and 3α,5α-tetrahydrodeoxycorticosterone (THDOC, 10 μM, 10 μL). Acute intrathecal administration of the GABAAR antagonist, bicuculline (10 μM, 10 μL) reversed the inhibition produced by progesterone, THDOC and allopregnanolone. These results imply that progesterone-mediated effects on GABAAR expression and neural inhibition are regulated by neurosteroids synthesis rather than progesterone receptor activation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)12-20
Number of pages9
Issue number1-2
Publication statusPublished - May 2009


  • Estrus cycle
  • Hyperalgesia
  • Pain
  • Progesterone
  • Spinal cord

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neurology
  • Clinical Neurology
  • Anesthesiology and Pain Medicine


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