Neurosteroid transport by the organic solute transporter OSTα-OSTβ

J Neurochem. 2010 Oct;115(1):220-33. doi: 10.1111/j.1471-4159.2010.06920.x. Epub 2010 Aug 12.


A variety of steroids, including pregnenolone sulfate (PREGS) and dehydroepiandrosterone sulfate (DHEAS) are synthesized by specific brain cells, and are then delivered to their target sites, where they exert potent effects on neuronal excitability. The present results demonstrate that [(3)H]DHEAS and [(3)H]PREGS are relatively high affinity substrates for the organic solute transporter, OSTα-OSTβ, and that the two proteins that constitute this transporter are selectively localized to steroidogenic cells in the cerebellum and hippocampus, namely the Purkinje cells and cells in the cornu ammonis region in both mouse and human brain. Analysis of Ostα and Ostβ mRNA levels in mouse Purkinje and hippocampal cells isolated via laser capture microdissection supported these findings. In addition, Ostα-deficient mice exhibited changes in serum DHEA and DHEAS levels, and in tissue distribution of administered [(3)H]DHEAS. OSTα and OSTβ proteins were also localized to the zona reticularis of human adrenal gland, the major region for DHEAS production in the periphery. These results demonstrate that OSTα-OSTβ is localized to steroidogenic cells of the brain and adrenal gland, and that it modulates DHEA/DHEAS homeostasis, suggesting that it may contribute to neurosteroid action.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adrenal Glands / metabolism
  • Animals
  • Biological Transport, Active
  • Brain Chemistry
  • Dehydroepiandrosterone / metabolism
  • Dehydroepiandrosterone Sulfate / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • Membrane Transport Proteins / genetics
  • Membrane Transport Proteins / metabolism*
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Mice, Knockout
  • Microdissection
  • Neurotransmitter Agents / metabolism*
  • Oocytes / metabolism
  • Pregnenolone / metabolism
  • RNA, Messenger / biosynthesis
  • RNA, Messenger / genetics
  • Reverse Transcriptase Polymerase Chain Reaction
  • Steroids / metabolism*
  • Xenopus laevis


  • Membrane Transport Proteins
  • Neurotransmitter Agents
  • RNA, Messenger
  • Steroids
  • organic solute transporter alpha, mouse
  • organic solute transporter beta, mouse
  • Dehydroepiandrosterone
  • Dehydroepiandrosterone Sulfate
  • Pregnenolone