Neonatal neurosteroid levels are determinant in shaping adult prepulse inhibition response to hippocampal allopregnanolone in rats

Sònia Darbra, Laura Modol, Monique Vallée, Marc Pallarès

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17 Citations (Scopus)


Diverse studies indicate that the alteration of the physiological levels of neurosteroids in early neonatal phases provokes alterations in the maturation of certain cerebral structures. Allopregnanolone (ALLO) has important modulatory effects in the hippocampus during the postnatal period where the adult pattern of inhibitory transmission is being established. In order to study whether endogenous neonatal ALLO levels would be a determinant parameter involved in mediating adult hippocampal GABAA system maturation, we investigated the effects of neonatal finasteride (50. mg/kg, SC) treatment and ALLO (ALLO; 20. mg/kg, SC) supplementation on an animal behavioural model with relevance to neurodevelopmental disorder, such as schizophrenia. Two sets of experiments were conducted. Neonatal treatment (from postnatal day (pnd) 5 to pnd9) was performed in 23 male Wistar rats and steroid quantification was performed in hippocampal homogenates at pnd9. A second group (n= 127) underwent neonatal treatment (pnd5-pnd9) and were submitted to hippocampal surgery at 80. d. The behavioural response to bilateral intrahippocampal neurosteroid administration (ALLO, 0.2. μg/0.5. μl per side or pregnenolone sulphate 5. ng/0.5. μl per side) on novelty-induced exploration activity and prepulse inhibition (PPI) was assessed at 95. d. Results showed that neonatal ALLO and finasteride administration decreased novelty directed exploratory behaviour and impaired the prepulse inhibition of the acoustic startle response at 95 days of age. Moreover, intrahippocampal ALLO increased head-dipping behaviour independently of the neonatal treatment, while intrahippocampal ALLO decreased PPI only in finasteride and ALLO groups. The results obtained in the present study indicate the importance of neonatal neurosteroid levels in the development of hippocampal function and their relevance in a behavioural phenotype that some have likened to that present in schizophrenia. © 2012 Elsevier Ltd.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1397-1406
Publication statusPublished - 1 Aug 2013


  • Acoustic startle response
  • Allopregnanolone
  • Behaviour
  • Hippocampus
  • Neurodevelopment
  • Pregnenolone sulphate
  • Prepulse inhibition
  • Rat
  • Schizophrenia


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