Attenuated sensitivity to neuroactive steroids in gamma-aminobutyrate type A receptor delta subunit knockout mice.

Department of Anesthesiology, University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, Pittsburgh, PA 15261, USA.
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (Impact Factor: 9.81). 11/1999; 96(22):12905-10. DOI: 10.1073/pnas.96.22.12905
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT gamma-Aminobutyric acid (GABA) type A receptors mediate fast inhibitory synaptic transmission and have been implicated in responses to sedative/hypnotic agents (including neuroactive steroids), anxiety, and learning and memory. Using gene targeting technology, we generated a strain of mice deficient in the delta subunit of the GABA type A receptors. In vivo testing of various behavioral responses revealed a strikingly selective attenuation of responses to neuroactive steroids, but not to other modulatory drugs. Electrophysiological recordings from hippocampal slices revealed a significantly faster miniature inhibitory postsynaptic current decay time in null mice, with no change in miniature inhibitory postsynaptic current amplitude or frequency. Learning and memory assessed with fear conditioning were normal. These results begin to illuminate the novel contributions of the delta subunit to GABA pharmacology and sedative/hypnotic responses and behavior and provide insights into the physiology of neurosteroids.

1 Bookmark
  • [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: Rapid activation of postsynaptic GABAA receptors (GABAARs) is crucial in many neuronal functions, including the synchronization of neuronal ensembles and controlling the precise timing of action potentials. Although the γ2 subunit is believed to be essential for the postsynaptic clustering of GABAARs, synaptic currents have been detected in neurons obtained from γ2(-/-) mice. To determine the role of the γ2 subunit in synaptic GABAAR enrichment, we performed a spatially and temporally controlled γ2 subunit deletion by injecting Cre-expressing viral vectors into the neocortex of GABAARγ2(77I)lox mice. Whole-cell recordings revealed the presence of miniature IPSCs in Cre(+) layer 2/3 pyramidal cells (PCs) with unchanged amplitudes and rise times, but significantly prolonged decays. Such slowly decaying currents could be evoked in PCs by action potentials in presynaptic fast-spiking interneurons. Freeze-fracture replica immunogold labeling revealed the presence of the α1 and β3 subunits in perisomatic synapses of cells that lack the γ2 subunit. Miniature IPSCs in Cre(+) PCs were insensitive to low concentrations of flurazepam, providing a pharmacological confirmation of the lack of the γ2 subunit. Receptors assembled from only αβ subunits were unlikely because Zn(2+) did not block the synaptic currents. Pharmacological experiments indicated that the αβγ3 receptor, rather than the αβδ, αβε, or αβγ1 receptors, was responsible for the slowly decaying IPSCs. Our data demonstrate the presence of IPSCs and the synaptic enrichment of the α1 and β3 subunits and suggest that the γ3 subunit is the most likely candidate for clustering GABAARs at synapses in the absence of the γ2 subunit.
    The Journal of neuroscience : the official journal of the Society for Neuroscience. 07/2014; 34(31):10219-10233.
  • Source
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: Allopregnanolone and its equipotent stereoisomer, pregnanolone (together termed ALLO), are neuroactive steroids that positively and allosterically modulate the action of gamma-amino-butyric acid (GABA) at GABAA receptors. Levels of ALLO are reduced in the cerebrospinal fluid of female premenopausal patients with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), a severe, neuropsychiatric condition that affects millions, yet is without a consistently effective therapy. This suggests that restoring downregulated brain ALLO levels in PTSD may be beneficial. ALLO biosynthesis is also decreased in association with the emergence of PTSD-like behaviors in socially isolated (SI) mice. Similar to PTSD patients, SI mice also exhibit changes in the frontocortical and hippocampal expression of GABAA receptor subunits, resulting in resistance to benzodiazepine-mediated sedation and anxiolysis. ALLO acts at a larger spectrum of GABAA receptor subunits than benzodiazepines, and increasing corticolimbic ALLO levels in SI mice by injecting ALLO or stimulating ALLO biosynthesis with a selective brain steroidogenic stimulant, such as S-norfluoxetine, at doses far below those that block serotonin reuptake, reduces PTSD-like behavior in these mice. This suggests that synthetic analogs of ALLO, such as ganaxolone, may also improve anxiety, aggression, and other PTSD-like behaviors in the SI mouse model. Consistent with this hypothesis, ganaxolone (3.75-30 mg/kg, s.c.) injected 60 min before testing of SI mice, induced a dose-dependent reduction in aggression toward a same-sex intruder and anxiety-like behavior in an elevated plus maze. The EC50 dose of ganaxolone used in these tests also normalized exaggerated contextual fear conditioning and, remarkably, enhanced fear extinction retention in SI mice. At these doses, ganaxolone failed to change locomotion in an open field test. Therefore, unlike benzodiazepines, ganaxolone at non-sedating concentrations appears to improve dysfunctional emotional behavior associated with deficits in ALLO in mice and may provide an alternative treatment for PTSD patients with deficits in the synthesis of ALLO. Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) are the only medications currently approved by the FDA for treatment of PTSD, although they are ineffective in a substantial proportion of PTSD patients. Hence, an ALLO analog such as ganaxolone may offer a therapeutic GABAergic alternative to SSRIs for the treatment of PTSD or other disorders in which ALLO biosynthesis may be impaired.
    Frontiers in Cellular Neuroscience 09/2014; 8:256. · 4.47 Impact Factor
  • Source
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: Objective Extrasynaptic γ‐aminobutyric acid type A receptors that contain the δ subunit (δGABAA receptors) are highly expressed in the dentate gyrus (DG) subfield of the hippocampus, where they generate a tonic conductance that regulates neuronal activity. GABAA receptor‐dependent signaling regulates memory and also facilitates postnatal neurogenesis in the adult DG; however, the role of the δGABAA receptors in these processes is unclear. Accordingly, we sought to determine whether δGABAA receptors regulate memory behaviors, as well as neurogenesis in the DG. Methods Memory and neurogenesis were studied in wild‐type (WT) mice and transgenic mice that lacked δGABAA receptors (Gabrd−/−). To pharmacologically increase δGABAA receptor activity, mice were treated with the δGABAA receptor‐preferring agonist 4,5,6,7‐tetrahydroisoxazolo(5,4‐c)pyridin‐3‐ol (THIP). Behavioral assays including recognition memory, contextual discrimination, and fear extinction were used. Neurogenesis was studied by measuring the proliferation, survival, migration, maturation, and dendritic complexity of adult‐born neurons in the DG. ResultsGabrd−/− mice exhibited impaired recognition memory and contextual discrimination relative to WT mice. Fear extinction was also impaired in Gabrd−/− mice, although the acquisition of fear memory was enhanced. Neurogenesis was disrupted in Gabrd−/− mice as the migration, maturation, and dendritic development of adult‐born neurons were impaired. Long‐term treatment with THIP facilitated learning and neurogenesis in WT but not Gabrd−/− mice. InterpretationδGABAA receptors promote the performance of certain DG‐dependent memory behaviors and facilitate neurogenesis. Furthermore, δGABAA receptors can be pharmacologically targeted to enhance these processes. Ann Neurol 2013;74:611–621
    Annals of Neurology 01/2013; 74(4). · 11.19 Impact Factor

Full-text (2 Sources)

Available from
May 31, 2014