Allopregnanolone, also known as tetrahydroprogesterone, was for a long time considered one of the many intermediate metabolites of the steroidogenic pathways, arising from progesterone (PROG), the gonadal hormone responsible for sexual receptivity. The principal sources of both PROG and allopregnanolone were considered the steroidogenic tissues as the ovary, testis and adrenal glands ( Ficher and Steinberger, 1971 ). In the early 80s, it was shown that the brain is capable of de novo biosynthesis of steroids. The first clue of neurosteroidogenesis came from the observations that pregnenolone, dehydroepiandrosterone, and their sulphate derivatives accumulate in the brain of castrated and adrenalectomized rats ( Corpechot et al., 1981 ). The confirmation of the existence of steroidogenic pathways within the brain was obtained during the year by the demonstration of the presence of the specific steroidogenic enzymes in both neurons and glial cells ( Pelletier, 2010 ).</P>The last decades of investigation have clearly supported the concept that in the nervous system, PROG is not only a physiological regulator of reproduction ( Banks and Freeman, 1980; Barraclough et al., 1986; Brann and Mahesh, 1991; Micevych and Sinchak, 2008, 2011; Skinner et al., 1998 ) but also regulates development of neurons ( Giachino
Progress in Neurobiology – Elsevier
Published: Feb 1, 2014
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