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Neurosci Lett. 2007 Mar 26;415(2):118-23. Epub 2007 Jan 5.

Neurosteroid modulation of GABAergic neurotransmission in the central amygdala: a role for NMDA receptors.

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  • 1Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, Duke University Medical Center, NC 27705, USA.


The neurosteroid 3alpha-hydroxy-5alpha-pregnan-20-one (allopregnanolone or ALLO) positively modulates GABA(A) receptors, an action that may contribute to the anxiolytic effects of ALLO. Recent evidence suggests that ALLO's anxiolytic effects appear to be mediated by the amygdala, a key neural structure for emotional and cognitive behaviors. However, little is known regarding ALLO effects on amygdala physiology. We therefore explored ALLO effects on GABA neurotransmission in the central nucleus (Ce) of the amygdala, a major output nucleus involved in fear and anxiety. We recorded evoked GABA(A) receptor-mediated inhibitory postsynaptic currents (IPSCs) in Ce neurons using whole-cell patch clamp techniques. We observed that ALLO significantly reduced the amplitude of evoked GABA(A) receptor-mediated IPSCs. However, the effect of ALLO was occluded by the NMDA receptor antagonist D-APV. D-APV alone also reduced evoked IPSCs in Ce neurons. These results suggest that ALLO-induced reduction of GABAergic transmission in Ce appears to depend on neural network activity, possibly involving an NMDA receptor-mediated mechanism. These ALLO effects on GABAergic transmission in the central amygdala may play a role in mediating its anxiolytic actions.

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