Progesterone alters GABA and glutamate responsiveness: a possible mechanism for its anxiolytic action

Brain Res. 1987 Jan 6;400(2):353-9. doi: 10.1016/0006-8993(87)90634-2.


In this study, the neuromodulatory effects of progesterone were tested in an intact neuronal circuit of a model extrahypothalamic CNS area. Spontaneous discharge and responses of single cerebellar Purkinje neurons to microiontophoretically applied gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) and glutamate were monitored before, during and after either systemic injection, at physiologic doses, or local application of the steroid. By both means of administration, progesterone significantly enhanced inhibitory responses of Purkinje cells to GABA and suppressed glutamate excitation within 3-10 min post-steroid. These results are consistent with the anxiolytic actions of the steroid.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Anti-Anxiety Agents / pharmacology*
  • Biomechanical Phenomena
  • Drug Synergism
  • Excitatory Amino Acid Antagonists
  • Female
  • Glutamates / pharmacology*
  • Glutamic Acid
  • Progesterone / pharmacology*
  • Purkinje Cells / drug effects*
  • Rats
  • Synapses / drug effects
  • gamma-Aminobutyric Acid / pharmacology*


  • Anti-Anxiety Agents
  • Excitatory Amino Acid Antagonists
  • Glutamates
  • Glutamic Acid
  • Progesterone
  • gamma-Aminobutyric Acid