Neurosteroid regulation of GABAA receptor single-channel kinetic properties of mouse spinal cord neurons in culture

J Physiol. 1992 Oct;456:215-45. doi: 10.1113/jphysiol.1992.sp019334.


1. Single-channel kinetics of steroid enhancement of single gamma-aminobutyric acidA (GABA) receptor currents obtained from somata of mouse spinal cord neurones in culture were investigated using the excised outside-out patch-clamp recording technique. GABA (2 microM) and GABA (2 microM) plus androsterone (5 alpha-androstan-3 alpha-ol-17-one, AND, 10 nM-10 microM) or pregnanolone (5 beta-pregnan-3 alpha-ol-20-one, PRE, 100 nM-10 microM) applied by pressure ejection from micropipettes evoked inward currents when patches were voltage clamped at -75 mV in symmetrical chloride solutions. Averaged GABA receptor currents were increased in the presence of the steroids. 2. GABA receptor currents were recorded with at least two conductance levels, a predominant or main-conductance level of about 28 pS (which contributed 96% of the current evoked) and a minor or sub-conductance level of about 20 pS. The current amplitudes of the two conductance levels were unchanged by the steroids. The gating (opening and closing) kinetics of both of the conductance levels were analysed. Findings for the main-conductance level are summarized below. 3. Both steroids increased the average GABA receptor channel open duration. Consistent with the increased GABA receptor channel average open duration, the steroids shifted frequency histograms of GABA receptor channel open durations to longer durations. Three exponential functions were required to fit best the frequency histograms of GABA open durations, consistent with at least three kinetic open states of the main-conductance level. Time constants obtained from the GABA receptor channel open-duration frequency histograms were unchanged in the presence of the steroids. The basis for the increased average GABA receptor channel open durations by the steroids was due to an increased relative proportion of the two longer open-duration time constants. The GABA receptor channel average open durations were increased by AND and PRE in a concentration-dependent manner by shifting the proportion of openings to the longer open time constants. At a concentration of 10 microM, the prolongation of the average open duration was decreased, suggesting that the GABA receptor channel was blocked by these steroids. 4. GABA receptor channel opening frequency was increased and average channel-closed duration was decreased by AND or PRE. Consistent with this, areas of the frequency histograms of channel closed durations were shifted to shorter durations. Closed frequency distributions were fitted best with five to six exponential functions, suggesting that the channel had multiple kinetic closed states. The three briefest time constants were not greatly altered by the steroids.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 400 WORDS)

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Androsterone / pharmacology*
  • Animals
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Dose-Response Relationship, Drug
  • Evoked Potentials / drug effects
  • Ion Channel Gating / drug effects*
  • Kinetics
  • Mice
  • Neurons / physiology
  • Pregnanolone / pharmacology*
  • Receptors, GABA-A / drug effects
  • Receptors, GABA-A / physiology*
  • gamma-Aminobutyric Acid / pharmacology


  • Receptors, GABA-A
  • gamma-Aminobutyric Acid
  • Pregnanolone
  • Androsterone