Sex Differences in Ethanol's Anxiolytic Effect and Chronic Ethanol Withdrawal Severity in Mice with a Null Mutation of the 5α-Reductase Type 1 Gene

Behav Genet. 2015 May;45(3):354-67. doi: 10.1007/s10519-014-9691-5. Epub 2014 Oct 31.


Manipulation of endogenous levels of the GABAergic neurosteroid allopregnanolone alters sensitivity to some effects of ethanol. Chronic ethanol withdrawal decreases activity and expression of 5α-reductase-1, an important enzyme in allopregnanolone biosynthesis encoded by the 5α-reductase-1 gene (Srd5a1). The present studies examined the impact of Srd5a1 deletion in male and female mice on several acute effects of ethanol and on chronic ethanol withdrawal severity. Genotype and sex did not differentially alter ethanol-induced hypothermia, ataxia, hypnosis, or metabolism, but ethanol withdrawal was significantly lower in female versus male mice. On the elevated plus maze, deletion of the Srd5a1 gene significantly decreased ethanol's effect on total entries versus wildtype (WT) mice and significantly decreased ethanol's anxiolytic effect in female knockout (KO) versus WT mice. The limited sex differences in the ability of Srd5a1 genotype to modulate select ethanol effects may reflect an interaction between developmental compensations to deletion of the Srd5a1 gene with sex hormones and levels of endogenous neurosteroids.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • 3-Oxo-5-alpha-Steroid 4-Dehydrogenase / genetics*
  • 3-Oxo-5-alpha-Steroid 4-Dehydrogenase / physiology*
  • Alcohol Drinking
  • Animals
  • Anti-Anxiety Agents / pharmacology*
  • Behavior, Animal
  • Corticosterone / blood
  • Ethanol / blood*
  • Ethanol / pharmacology*
  • Female
  • Gene Deletion
  • Genotype
  • Male
  • Maze Learning
  • Membrane Proteins / genetics*
  • Membrane Proteins / physiology*
  • Mice
  • Mice, Knockout
  • Mutation
  • Pregnanolone / blood
  • Sex Characteristics
  • Sex Factors
  • Substance Withdrawal Syndrome / genetics*


  • Anti-Anxiety Agents
  • Membrane Proteins
  • Ethanol
  • Pregnanolone
  • 3-Oxo-5-alpha-Steroid 4-Dehydrogenase
  • Srd5a1 protein, mouse
  • Corticosterone