Discriminative stimulus effects of 5.6 mg/kg pregnanolone in DBA/2J and C57BL/6J inbred mice

Erin E. Shannon, Robert H. Purdy, Kathleen A. Grant

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


Neurosteroids represent a class of endogenous compounds that exert rapid, nongenomic effects through neurotransmitter receptor systems such as γ-aminobutyric acidA (GABAA). Two neurosteroids, allopregnanolone (3α-hydroxy-5α-pregnan-20-one) and pregnanolone (3α-hydroxy-5β-pregnan-20-one), possess anxiolytic and sedative properties and show substitution for ethanol, benzodiazepines, and barbiturates in drug discrimination assays. A previous study examining the discriminative stimulus effects of 10 mg/kg pregnanolone in DBA/2J and C57BL/6J mice showed pregnanolone's discriminative stimulus to be mediated primarily through GABAA positive modulation. This study examined the discriminative stimulus effects of a lower training dose (5.6 mg/kg) of pregnanolone in DBA/2J and C57BL/5J mice. Twelve male DBA/2J mice and 12 male C57BL/6J mice were trained to discriminate 5.6 mg/kg pregnanolone. GABAA-receptor positive modulators, neuroactive steroids, NMDA receptor antagonists, and 5-HT3 receptor agonists were tested for pregnanolone substitution. In DBA/2J and C57BL/6J mice benzodiazepine, barbiturate, and GABAergic neuroactive steroids all substituted for pregnanolone. In the DBA/2J mice, NMDA receptor antagonists showed generalization to the discriminative stimulus cues of pregnanolone, an effect not seen in the C57BL/6J mice. 5-HT3 receptor agonists and zolpidem failed to substitute for pregnanolone's discriminative stimulus in either strain. AlloTHDOC and midazolam were more potent in producing pregnanolone-like discriminative stimulus effects in DBA/2J mice. These results provide a comprehensive look at pregnanolone's discriminative stimulus effects in two commonly used strains of mice. The present data suggest GABA A-receptor positive modulation as the predominant receptor mechanism mediating the discriminative stimulus effects of pregnanolone. NMDA receptor antagonism was suggested in the DBA/2J mice and may represent a heterogenous cue produced by the lower training dose of pregnanolone.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)35-45
Number of pages11
Issue number1
StatePublished - Aug 2006
Externally publishedYes


  • C57BL/6J
  • DBA/2J
  • Drug discrimination
  • Neurosteroid
  • Pregnanolone

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health(social science)
  • Biochemistry
  • Toxicology
  • Neurology
  • Behavioral Neuroscience


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