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Nat Neurosci. 2007 Apr;10(4):523-30. Epub 2007 Feb 25.

Anticonvulsant and anesthetic effects of a fluorescent neurosteroid analog activated by visible light.

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  • 1Department of Neurology, Washington University School of Medicine, 660 S. Euclid Ave, St. Louis, Missouri 63110, USA.


Most photoactivatable compounds suffer from the limitations of the ultraviolet wavelengths that are required for activation. We synthesized a neuroactive steroid analog with a fluorescent (7-nitro-2,1,3-benzoxadiazol-4-yl) amino (NBD) group in the beta configuration at the C2 position of (3alpha,5alpha)-3-hydroxypregnan-20-one (allopregnanolone, 3alpha5alphaP). Light wavelengths (480 nm) that excite compound fluorescence strongly potentiate GABAA receptor function. Potentiation is limited by photodepletion of the receptor-active species. Photopotentiation is long-lived and stereoselective and shows single-channel hallmarks similar to steroid potentiation. Other NBD-conjugated compounds also generate photopotentiation, albeit with lower potency. Thus, photopotentiation does not require a known ligand for neurosteroid potentiating sites on the GABAA receptor. Photoactivation of a membrane-impermeant, fluorescent steroid analog demonstrates that membrane localization is critical for activity. The photoactivatable steroid silences pathological spiking in cultured rat hippocampal neurons and anesthetizes tadpoles. Fluorescent steroids photoactivated by visible light may be useful for modulating GABAA receptor function in a spatiotemporally defined manner.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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