Ethanol withdrawal-induced dysregulation of neurosteroid levels in plasma, cortex, and hippocampus in genetic animal models of high and low withdrawal

Jeremiah P. Jensen, Michelle A. Nipper, Melinda L. Helms, Matthew M. Ford, John C. Crabbe, David J. Rossi, Deborah A. Finn

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


Rationale: Endogenous γ-aminobutyric acidA receptor (GABAAR)-active neurosteroids (e.g., allopregnanolone) regulate central nervous system excitability and many physiological functions, so fluctuations are implicated in several neuropsychiatric disorders. Pertinently, evidence supports an inverse relationship between endogenous GABAAR-active neurosteroid levels and behavioral changes in excitability during ethanol withdrawal (WD). Objectives: The present studies determined mouse genotype differences in ten neurosteroid levels in plasma, cortex, and hippocampus over the time course of ethanol WD in the WD Seizure-Prone (WSP) and WD Seizure-Resistant (WSR) selected lines and in the DBA/2J (DBA) inbred strain. Methods: Gas chromatography-mass spectrometry was utilized to simultaneously quantify neurosteroid levels from control-treated male WSP-1, WSR-1, and DBA mice and during 8 and 48 h of WD. Results: Combined with our prior work, there was a consistent decrease in plasma allopregnanolone levels at 8 h WD in all three genotypes, an effect that persisted at 48 h WD only in DBA mice. WSR-1 and WSP-1 mice exhibited unexpected divergent changes in cortical neurosteroids at 8 h WD, with the majority of neurosteroids (including allopregnanolone) being significantly decreased in WSR-1 mice, but unaffected or significantly increased in WSP-1 mice. In DBA mice, hippocampal allopregnanolone and tetrahydrodeoxycorticosterone were significantly decreased at 8 h WD. The pattern of significant correlations between allopregnanolone and other GABAAR-active neurosteroid levels differed between controls and withdrawing mice. Conclusions: Ethanol WD dysregulated neurosteroid synthesis. Results in WSP-1 mice suggest that diminished GABAAR function is more important for their high WD phenotype than fluctuations in neurosteroid levels.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2793-2811
Number of pages19
Issue number18
StatePublished - Sep 1 2017


  • Allopregnanolone
  • Androstanediol
  • Corticosterone
  • DHEA
  • Pregnenolone
  • Tetrahydrodeoxycorticosterone

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pharmacology


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