Exploring the neural mechanisms of finasteride: a proteomic analysis in the nucleus accumbens

Psychoneuroendocrinology. 2016 Dec;74:387-396. doi: 10.1016/j.psyneuen.2016.10.001. Epub 2016 Oct 6.


The enzyme 5α-reductase (5αR) catalyzes the conversion of progesterone and testosterone into neuroactive steroids implicated in a wide array of behavioral functions. The prototypical 5αR inhibitor, finasteride (FIN), is clinically approved for the treatment of androgenic alopecia and benign prostatic hyperplasia. Recent evidence has shown that FIN, albeit generally well tolerated, can induce untoward psychological effects in a subset of patients; furthermore, this drug may have therapeutic efficacy for a number of different neuropsychiatric conditions, ranging from Tourette syndrome to schizophrenia. In rat models of these conditions, FIN has been shown to block the effects of dopamine receptors in the nucleus accumbens (NAcc), a key terminal of the dopamine mesolimbic system. The biological underpinnings of these effects, however, remain mostly elusive. To elucidate the neurochemical networks that may be responsible for the behavioral effects of FIN, we evaluated the proteomic profile of the NAcc following acute (100mg/kg, IP) and subchronic (7 days; 100mg/kg/day, IP) treatment with this drug, in comparison with vehicle treatment (n=5/group). Two-dimensional electrophoresis (2-DE) analysis coupled to mass spectrometry revealed significant changes in the expression of nine proteins (CRMP2, PSMD1, STX18, KCNC3, CYP255, GABRP, GABT, PRPS1, CYP2B3), which were further analyzed by ontological classification (PANTHER). These results point to a number of novel potential chemical targets of FIN, and may help elucidate the underpinnings of FIN's behavioral effects and therapeutic potential for neuropsychiatric disorders.

Keywords: Finasteride; Gene ontology; Proteomics; Rat brain.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • 5-alpha Reductase Inhibitors / administration & dosage
  • 5-alpha Reductase Inhibitors / pharmacology*
  • Animals
  • Finasteride / administration & dosage
  • Finasteride / pharmacology*
  • Male
  • Nucleus Accumbens / drug effects*
  • Nucleus Accumbens / metabolism*
  • Proteome / drug effects*
  • Proteome / metabolism
  • Proteomics / methods
  • Rats
  • Rats, Sprague-Dawley


  • 5-alpha Reductase Inhibitors
  • Proteome
  • Finasteride