Androgenic neurosteroids: anti-seizure effects in an animal model of epilepsy

Psychoneuroendocrinology. 1998 May;23(4):385-99. doi: 10.1016/s0306-4530(98)00009-2.


These studies investigate whether the neurosteroid and 5 alpha-reduced metabolite of testosterone (T), 5 alpha-androstane-3 alpha, 17 beta-diol (3 alpha-Diol), has anti-seizure effects similar to its parent compound. In experiment 1, ovariectomized (ovx) Long-Evans rats (n = 20) were subcutaneously (s.c.) administered 32 mg/kg kainic acid or saline vehicle 10 min following 0.0, 3.0, or 7.5 mg/kg 3 alpha-Diol in 10% ethanol, propylene glycol vehicle (veh). During 2 h of observation of ictal activity, 3 alpha-Diol (3.0 and 7.5 mg/kg) prior to kainic acid significantly decreased the number and duration of partial and full seizures compared to the 0.0 3 alpha-Diol conditions and produced ictal activity that was comparable to 0.0 mg/kg 3 alpha-Diol no kainic acid controls (procedure controls). Animals that received 7.5 mg/kg 3 alpha-Diol prior to kainic acid had shorter latencies and distances to the hidden platform in a Morris Water Maze task than those that received 0.0 3 alpha-Diol, 1 week following ictal activity. Administration of 3 alpha-Diol (3.0 or 7.5 mg/kg) prior to kainic acid stimulation resulted in a greater number of identifiable neurons in the hilar region of the hippocampus, compared to 0.0 3 alpha-Diol condition. Experiment 2 was conducted to ascertain whether 3 alpha-Diol's anti-seizure effects were comparable to T and possibly a result of metabolism from T. Ovx rats (n = 36) were stereotaxically implanted with bipolar electrodes into the perforant pathway. One hour prior to perforant pathway stimulation, six rats were s.c. injected with either T (7.5 mg/kg), 3 alpha-Diol (7.5 mg/kg), 7.5 mg/kg T + 4MA (a 5 alpha-reductase inhibitor, 17 beta-N,N-diethylcarbamoyl-4-methyl-4aza,5 alpha-androstan-3-one), 4MA alone, 10% propylene glycol vehicle (veh) with perforant pathway stimulation, or veh without perforant pathway stimulation. 3 alpha-Diol and T produced similar seizure activity, water maze performance, and neuronal integrity in the hilar region of the hippocampus that were comparable to unstimulated controls. Because the T and 3 alpha-Diol groups were not different from T + 4MA but tended to be different from 4MA alone on these measures, this suggests that 3 alpha-Diol and T can have similar anti-seizure effects which may be due to actions of neurosteroids.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Anabolic Agents / pharmacology*
  • Androstane-3,17-diol / pharmacology*
  • Animals
  • Anticonvulsants / pharmacology*
  • Dose-Response Relationship, Drug
  • Electroencephalography / drug effects*
  • Epilepsy / chemically induced
  • Epilepsy / physiopathology*
  • Escape Reaction / drug effects
  • Female
  • Hippocampus / drug effects
  • Injections, Subcutaneous
  • Kainic Acid
  • Maze Learning / drug effects
  • Mental Recall / drug effects
  • Ovariectomy
  • Rats
  • Rats, Long-Evans


  • Anabolic Agents
  • Anticonvulsants
  • Androstane-3,17-diol
  • Kainic Acid