Neuroactive steroids and fatigue severity in patients with primary biliary cirrhosis and hepatitis C

Neuroscience Research Unit, Université de Montréal, Montreal, QC, Canada.
Neurogastroenterology and Motility (Impact Factor: 3.59). 07/2008; 20(6):671-9. DOI: 10.1111/j.1365-2982.2007.01080.x
Source: PubMed


Fatigue is one of the most common non-specific symptoms associated with several disease states including liver diseases. Recently, it was reported that levels of progesterone metabolites such as allopregnanolone (3alpha,5alpha-tetrahydroprogesterone; 3alpha,5alpha-THP) and isopregnanolone (3beta,5alpha-THP) were increased in plasma of patients with chronic fatigue syndrome. We hypothesize that THP metabolites might be associated with fatigue commonly observed in chronic liver diseases. We evaluated fatigue scores and plasma levels of five progesterone metabolites in 16 patients with primary biliary cirrhosis (PBC), 12 patients with chronic hepatitis C (CHC) and 11 age-matched controls. The fatigue impact scale (FIS) ratio was significantly increased (P < 0.01) in patients with PBC and CHC compared to controls. Plasma levels of 3alpha,5alpha-THP and pregnanolone (3alpha,5beta-THP) were significantly increased in PBC and CHC patients. The other progesterone metabolites, i.e. 3beta,5alpha-THP, 3beta,5beta-THP and 3alpha,5alpha-tetrahydrodeoxycorticosterone were either undetectable or detected only in some patients. Plasma levels of 3alpha,5alpha-THP and 3alpha,5beta-THP were found to be significantly higher in patients with fatigue (P < 0.05), while those of patients without fatigue were not significantly different from controls. Both 3alpha,5alpha-THP and 3alpha,5beta-THP are positive allosteric modulators of the gamma-aminobutyric acid type A (GABA-A) receptor and readily cross the blood-brain barrier. The present preliminary findings suggest that increased inhibition through GABA-A receptors due to the accumulation of neuroinhibitory steroids may represent an important pathophysiological mechanism of fatigue in chronic liver diseases.

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Available from: Ziad Hassoun, Aug 11, 2015
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    • "Recently, it has been suggested that HE-dependent ammonia may be developed due to the modification of the GABA A receptor affinity [10]. Other findings suggest that increased inhibition through GABA A receptors may represent an important pathophysiological mechanism of fatigue in chronic HCV infection [11]. "
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    ABSTRACT: The modulation of the gamma-aminobutyric acid type A (GABA A) receptors activity was observed in several chronic hepatitis failures, including hepatitis C. The expression of GABA A receptor subunits α1 and β3 was detected in peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMCs) originated from healthy donors. The aim of the study was to evaluate if GABA A α1 and β3 expression can also be observed in PBMCs from chronic hepatitis C (CHC) patients and to evaluate a possible association between their expression and the course of hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection. GABA A α1- and β3-specific mRNAs presence and a protein expression in PBMCs from healthy donors and CHC patients were screened by reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) and Western blot, respectively. In patients, HCV RNA was determined in sera and PBMCs. It was shown that GABA A α1 and β3 expression was significantly different in PBMCs from CHC patients and healthy donors. In comparison to healthy donors, CHC patients were found to present an increase in the expression of GABA A α1 subunit and a decrease in the expression of β3 subunit in their PBMCs. The modulation of α1 and β3 GABA A receptors subunits expression in PBMCs may be associated with ongoing or past HCV infection.
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    • "Gas chromatography–mass spectrometry analysis was used to measure levels of several neurosteroids in the CNS tissue, as described previously (Ahboucha et al., 2008). Protein was precipitated by the addition of methanol followed by centrifugation. "
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    ABSTRACT: High-throughput technologies have led to advances in the recognition of disease pathways and their underlying mechanisms. To investigate the impact of micro-RNAs on the disease process in multiple sclerosis, a prototypic inflammatory neurological disorder, we examined cerebral white matter from patients with or without the disease by micro-RNA profiling, together with confirmatory reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction analysis, immunoblotting and gas chromatography-mass spectrometry. These observations were verified using the in vivo multiple sclerosis model, experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis. Brains of patients with or without multiple sclerosis demonstrated differential expression of multiple micro-RNAs, but expression of three neurosteroid synthesis enzyme-specific micro-RNAs (miR-338, miR-155 and miR-491) showed a bias towards induction in patients with multiple sclerosis (P < 0.05). Analysis of the neurosteroidogenic pathways targeted by micro-RNAs revealed suppression of enzyme transcript and protein levels in the white matter of patients with multiple sclerosis (P < 0.05). This was confirmed by firefly/Renilla luciferase micro-RNA target knockdown experiments (P < 0.05) and detection of specific micro-RNAs by in situ hybridization in the brains of patients with or without multiple sclerosis. Levels of important neurosteroids, including allopregnanolone, were suppressed in the white matter of patients with multiple sclerosis (P < 0.05). Induction of the murine micro-RNAs, miR-338 and miR-155, accompanied by diminished expression of neurosteroidogenic enzymes and allopregnanolone, was also observed in the brains of mice with experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis (P < 0.05). Allopregnanolone treatment of the experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis mouse model limited the associated neuropathology, including neuroinflammation, myelin and axonal injury and reduced neurobehavioral deficits (P < 0.05). These multi-platform studies point to impaired neurosteroidogenesis in both multiple sclerosis and experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis. The findings also indicate that allopregnanolone and perhaps other neurosteroid-like compounds might represent potential biomarkers or therapies for multiple sclerosis.
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    ABSTRACT: Hepatic encephalopathy (HE) is a neuropsychiatric complication of both acute and chronic liver failure characterized by progressive neuronal inhibition. Some neurosteroids are potent positive allosteric modulators of the gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA)-A receptor complex, and 'increased GABAergic tone' has been proposed to explain the neuroinhibition characteristics of HE. Brain levels of the neurosteroids pregnenolone, allopregnanolone and tetrahydrodesoxycorticosterone (THDOC) and the functional status of the GABA-A receptor complex were assessed in rats following portacaval anastomosis (PCA). Effects of indomethacin, an inhibitor of the 3alpha-hydroxysteroid dehydrogenase enzyme involved in neurosteroid synthesis, on PCA rat locomotor activity and brain neurosteroid levels were also assessed. Significant increases of the neurosteroid pregnenolone (2.6-fold), allopregnanolone (1.7-fold) and THDOC (4.7-fold) were observed in brains of PCA rats. Brain levels of these neurosteroids were in the nanomolar range, sufficient to exert positive allosteric modulatory effects at the GABA-A receptor. Indomethacin (0.1-5 mg kg(-1)) ameliorated dose-dependently the locomotor deficit of PCA rats and concomitantly normalized brain levels of allopregnanolone and THDOC. Increased brain levels of neurosteroids with positive allosteric modulatory actions at the neuronal GABA-A receptor offer a cogent explanation for the notion of 'increased GABAergic tone' in HE. Pharmacological approaches using agents that either reduce neurosteroid synthesis or modulate the neurosteroid site on GABA-A receptor could offer new therapeutic tools for the management and treatment of HE.
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