Rewarding effect of the neuroactive steroid 3α-hydroxy-5α-pregnan-20-one in mice

Deborah A. Finn, Tamara J. Phillips, Dobrina M. Okorn, Julia A. Chester, Christopher L. Cunningham

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

78 Scopus citations


The GABA(A)-receptor agonist neuroactive steroid 3α-hydroxy-5α-pregnan-20-one (3α,5α-P) has anxiolytic and locomotor stimulant effects and shares some subjective properties with benzodiazepines. Barbiturates and ethanol, but there have been no studies of its reinforcing or rewarding effects. The present study examined the rewarding properties of 3α,5α-P using the conditioned place preference paradigm. Male DBA/2J mice received four pairings of a distinctive floor stimulus with 3α,5α-P (3.2, 10 or 17 mg/kg, IP) in an unbiased conditioning procedure. On alternate days a different distinctive floor was paired with vehicle. At the lowest dose (3.2 mg/kg), there was no difference between conditioning subgroups in preference for the drug-paired floor type, indicating an absence of place conditioning. However, a dose-dependent conditioned preference was evident at the higher doses as shown by the greater amount of time spent on the floor paired with 3α,5α-P. In addition, 3α,5α-P produced a dose-dependent increase in locomotor activity, which was significant following the 17 mg/kg dose. A control study showed no effect of the β-cyclodextrin vehicle on place conditioning in the absence of neurosteroid. These results provide the first demonstration that 3α,5α-P, an endogenous modulator of GABA(A) receptor function, possesses rewarding properties using the conditioned place preference paradigm.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)261-264
Number of pages4
JournalPharmacology Biochemistry and Behavior
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 1997


  • GABA(A)-receptor agonist
  • conditioned place preference
  • inbred mice
  • locomotor activity
  • neuroactive steroid
  • reward

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Toxicology
  • Pharmacology
  • Clinical Biochemistry
  • Biological Psychiatry
  • Behavioral Neuroscience


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