Effects of neurosteroid actions at N-methyl-D-aspartate and GABA A receptors in the midbrain ventral tegmental area for anxiety-like and mating behavior of female rats

Department of Psychology, The University at Albany-SUNY, 1400 Washington Avenue, Albany, NY 12222, USA.
Psychopharmacology (Impact Factor: 3.88). 09/2010; 213(1):93-103. DOI: 10.1007/s00213-010-2016-3
Source: PubMed


In the midbrain ventral tegmental area (VTA), actions of neurosteroids, such as the progesterone metabolite, 5α-pregnan-3α-ol-20-one (3α,5α-THP), can facilitate mating and influence stress-related processes. Some actions of 3α,5α-THP may occur via positive modulation of GABA(A) receptors (GBRs), or negative modulation of N-methyl-D: -aspartate receptors (NMDARs), to influence anxiety-like behavior; but this is not known.
We aimed to assess the role that neurosteroids and stress factors play on intra-VTA NMDAR- and/or GBR-mediated anxiety-like and mating behavior.
Estradiol-primed, ovariectomized rats, which were partially or completely adrenalectomized (ADX), received infusions of vehicle, an NMDAR blocker (MK-801; 200 ng), or a GBR antagonist (bicuculline, 100 ng) to the VTA. Rats then received intra-VTA vehicle or a neurosteroidogenesis enhancer (N,N-Dihexyl-2-(4-fluorophenyl)indole-3-acetamide, FGIN 1-27, 5 μg) and anxiety-like and sexual behavior was assessed.
Complete, compared to partial, ADX significantly reduced open arm exploration on an elevated plus maze, the proportion of females that engaged in mating, lordosis quotients, pacing of sexual contacts, and defensive aggression towards a sexually vigorous male. Intra-VTA MK-801 enhanced open arm investigation and the proportion of females that engaged in mating. Infusions of either, MK-801 or FGIN 1-27, enhanced lordosis and, when co-administered, FGIN 1-27 attenuated MK-801's lordosis-enhancing effects. Intra-VTA infusions of bicuculline, prior to FGIN 1-27, blocked FGIN 1-27's effects to enhance lordosis.
Together, these data suggest that reduced NMDAR activity in the VTA may influence motivation to explore and engage in sexual behavior. These data suggest that neurosteroid actions at NMDARs and GBRs in the VTA are important for exploration and/or sexual behavior.

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Available from: Jason Paris, Jan 28, 2015
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    • "We have traditionally utilized studies such as those described above to ascertain mechanisms of allopregnanolone using lordosis in a mating task as one endpoint. Mating is typically assessed after other measures of behaviors that may support reproduction (i.e., reproductively-relevant behaviors, such as exploration, anxiety, and pro-social behavior) that allopregnanolone mediates (Frye, 2011; Frye et al., 2012, 2013a,b), perhaps through its actions at GABAA receptors and NMDARs (Frye and Paris, 2009, 2011). In comparing the extent to which PXR AS-ODNs reduce such behaviors, we have consistently noted that the most robust effects are for lordosis quotients, followed by other socially-relevant measures (aggression/rejection during the mating task, and social investigation of a female conspecific), and then affective measures (open arm exploration in the plus maze) and then exploratory/ambulatory behavior (open field entries made; Figure 4). "
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    ABSTRACT: Neurosteroids are cholesterol-based hormones that can be produced in the brain, independent of secretion from peripheral endocrine glands, such as the gonads and adrenals. A focus in our laboratory for over 25 years has been how production of the pregnane neurosteroid, allopregnanolone, is regulated and the novel (i.e., non steroid receptor) targets for steroid action for behavior. One endpoint of interest has been lordosis, the mating posture of female rodents. Allopregnanolone is necessary and sufficient for lordosis, and the brain circuitry underlying it, such as actions in the midbrain ventral tegmental area (VTA), has been well-characterized. Published and recent findings supporting a dynamic role of allopregnanolone are included in this review. First, contributions of ovarian and adrenal sources of precursors of allopregnanolone, and the requisite enzymatic actions for de novo production in the central nervous system will be discussed. Second, how allopregnanolone produced in the brain has actions on behavioral processes that are independent of binding to steroid receptors, but instead involve rapid modulatory actions via neurotransmitter targets (e.g., γ-amino butyric acid-GABA, N-methyl-D-aspartate- NMDA) will be reviewed. Third, a recent focus on characterizing the role of a promiscuous nuclear receptor, pregnane xenobiotic receptor (PXR), involved in cholesterol metabolism and expressed in the VTA, as a target for allopregnanolone and how this relates to both actions and production of allopregnanolone will be addressed. For example, allopregnanolone can bind PXR and knocking down expression of PXR in the midbrain VTA attenuates actions of allopregnanolone via NMDA and/or GABAA for lordosis. Our understanding of allopregnanolone's actions in the VTA for lordosis has been extended to reveal the role of allopregnanolone for broader, clinically-relevant questions, such as neurodevelopmental processes, neuropsychiatric disorders, epilepsy, and aging.
    Frontiers in Cellular Neuroscience 04/2014; 8(1):106. DOI:10.3389/fncel.2014.00106 · 4.29 Impact Factor
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    • "Unlike P 4 , allopregnanolone acts at extracellular membrane-bound neurotransmitter targets to exert rapid effects on behavior (reviewed in Schumacher et al., 2014). Such nontraditional actions of progestogens are important for regulating anxiety-like behavior of rodents (Bali and Jaggi, 2013; Frye and Paris, 2011) and their utility in treating HIVmediated neurotoxicity has been recently proposed (Perumal and Dhanasekaran, 2012). Indeed, the rate-limiting enzyme necessary to catalyze P 4 's conversion to allopregnanolone is upregulated by E 2 (Micevych and Sinchak, 2011), indicating this nontraditional progestogen as a common product between these two prohormones that may partly underlie their overlapping effects for neuroprotection and behavior . "
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    ABSTRACT: Increased anxiety is co-morbid with human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection. Actions of the neurotoxic HIV-1 regulatory protein, Tat, may contribute to affective dysfunction. We hypothesized that Tat expression would increase anxiety-like behavior of female GT-tg bigenic mice that express HIV-1 Tat protein in the brain in a doxycycline-dependent manner. Furthermore, given reports that HIV-induced anxiety may occur at lower rates among women, and that the neurotoxic effects of Tat are ameliorated by sex steroids in vitro, we hypothesized that 17β-estradiol and/or progesterone would ameliorate Tat-induced anxiety-like effects. Among naturally-cycling proestrous and diestrous mice, Tat-induction via 7days of doxycycline treatment significantly increased anxiety-like responding in an open field, elevated plus maze and a marble-burying task, compared to treatment with saline. Proestrous mice demonstrated less anxiety-like behavior than diestrous mice in the open field and elevated plus maze, but these effects did not significantly interact with Tat-induction. Among ovariectomized mice, doxycycline-induced Tat protein significantly increased anxiety-like behavior in an elevated plus maze and a marble burying task compared to saline-treated mice, but not an open field (where anxiety-like responding was already maximal). Co-administration of progesterone (4mg/kg), but not 17β-estradiol (0.09mg/kg), with doxycycline significantly ameliorated anxiety-like responding in the elevated plus maze and marble burying tasks. When administered together, 17β-estradiol partially antagonized the protective effects of progesterone on Tat-induced anxiety-like behavior. These findings support evidence of steroid-protection over HIV-1 proteins, and extend them by demonstrating the protective capacity of progesterone on Tat-induced anxiety-like behavior of ovariectomized female mice.
    Hormones and Behavior 04/2014; 65(5). DOI:10.1016/j.yhbeh.2014.04.001 · 4.63 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Progestogens [progesterone (P(4)) and its products] play fundamental roles in the development and/or function of the central nervous system during pregnancy. We, and others, have investigated the role of pregnane neurosteroids for a plethora of functional effects beyond their pro-gestational processes. Emerging findings regarding the effects, mechanisms, and sources of neurosteroids have challenged traditional dogma about steroid action. How the P(4) metabolite and neurosteroid, 3α-hydroxy-5α-pregnan-20-one (3α,5α-THP), influences cellular functions and behavioral processes involved in emotion/affect, motivation, and reward, is the focus of the present review. To further understand these processes, we have utilized an animal model assessing the effects, mechanisms, and sources of 3α,5α-THP. In the ventral tegmental area (VTA), 3α,5α-THP has actions to facilitate affective, and motivated, social behaviors through non-traditional targets, such as GABA, glutamate, and dopamine receptors. 3α,5α-THP levels in the midbrain VTA both facilitate, and/or are enhanced by, affective and social behavior. The pregnane xenobiotic receptor (PXR) mediates the production of, and/or metabolism to, various neurobiological factors. PXR is localized to the midbrain VTA of rats. The role of PXR to influence 3α,5α-THP production from central biosynthesis, and/or metabolism of peripheral P(4), in the VTA, as well as its role to facilitate, or be increased by, affective/social behaviors is under investigation. Investigating novel behavioral functions of 3α,5α-THP extends our knowledge of the neurobiology of progestogens, relevant for affective/social behaviors, and their connections to systems that regulate affect and motivated processes, such as those important for stress regulation and neuropsychiatric disorders (anxiety, depression, schizophrenia, drug dependence). Thus, further understanding of 3α,5α-THP's role and mechanisms to enhance affective and motivated processes is essential.
    Frontiers in Neuroscience 01/2011; 5:136. DOI:10.3389/fnins.2011.00136 · 3.66 Impact Factor
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