Ethanol did not alter the conversion of [3H]3α,5α-THP to [3H]5α-DHP in rat olfactory bulb and tubercle or adrenal gland. An increase in the reductive activity of the 3α-HSD with no change in the oxidative direction would cause a greater conversion of 5α-DHP to 3α,5α-THP. This effect could contribute to ethanol-induced increases in brain 3α,5αTHP levels. Indeed, the increased reductive activity of 3α-HSD would be predicted
to increase brain levels of both 3α,5α-THP and other 3α,5α-reduced neuroactive steroids such as 3α,5α-THDOC. Suppression of neuroactive steroid responses following chrowing chronic ethanol exposure in rats It is well known that chronic stress results in Inhibitors,research,lifescience,medical adaptation of the HPA axis, leading
to decreased levels of corticosterone in rats.89 Repeated exposure to alcohol also blunts the response of the HPA axis to a second ethanol challenge.90 This blunting of the HPA axis is associated Inhibitors,research,lifescience,medical with reduction in CRF and ACTH elevations following ethanol challenge.91 In line with these observations, chronic ethanol consumption in Inhibitors,research,lifescience,medical rats results in blunted elevation of cerebral cortical 3α,5α-THP4 and plasma and brain DOC levels following acute ethanol challenge,79 compared with pair-fed control rats. These findings suggest that there is tolerance to ethanol-induced increases in neuroactive steroid levels. Since decreases in brain neurosteroid levels were concomitant with decreases in plasma neurosteroid levels, it is likely that the observed decreases in 3α,5α-THP and DOC levels were dependent on blunted HPA axis activity. Thus, adaptations of the HPA axis may contribute to tolerance to Inhibitors,research,lifescience,medical effects of ethanol that are mediated by the GABAergic neuroactive steroids. Chronic ethanol administration to rodents and humans produces tolerance to ethanol and cross-tolerance Inhibitors,research,lifescience,medical to benzodiazepines and barbiturates. In contrast, ethanoldependent rats are sensitized to the anticonvulsant effects of both 3α,5α-THP and 3α,5α-THDOC.92,94
These studies also show that GABAA receptor sensitivity to 3α,5α-THP and 3α,5α-THDOC is enhanced in ethanoldependent rats, likely due to the reduction of ethanolinduced levels in these Z-VAD-FMK mw animals described above. Since ethanol-dependent rats are sensitized to anticonvulsant actions of neuroactive steroids, this class of compounds much may be therapeutic during ethanol withdrawal Indeed, neurosteroid therapy may have advantages over benzodiazepine therapy since benzodiazepines exhibit crosstolerance with ethanol. Further studies are needed to explore this possibility. Effects of ethanol on neuroactive steroids in humans The potential role of neuroactive steroids in alcohol action in humans is relatively unexplored and inconsistent. Recent human studies show that male and female adolescents seen in the emergency room for alcohol intoxication had elevated plasma levels of the neuroactive steroid 3α,5α-THP.