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Pharmacopsychiatry. 2010 Jul;43(5):174-8. doi: 10.1055/s-0030-1249095. Epub 2010 May 18.

Finasteride treatment inhibits adult hippocampal neurogenesis in male mice.

Author information

  • 1RG Behavioural Biology, Central Institute of Mental Health, Mannheim, University of Heidelberg, Germany. benedikt.roemer@zi-mannheim.de

Abstract

INTRODUCTION:

The 5-alpha-reductase inhibitor finasteride is used for the treatment of androgenic alopecia, benign prostate hyperplasia and prostate cancer. Besides inhibiting the conversion of testosterone to the biologically more active 5alpha-dihydrotestosterone, it also inhibits the production of neurosteroids. Decreased neurosteroid levels are postulated to be involved in the pathophysiology of psychiatric disorders such as depression. As neurosteroids metabolized by 5-alpha-reductase influence neural plasticity, we investigated whether finasteride treatment alters adult hippocampal neurogenesis, implicated in the pathophysiology of depression.

METHODS:

Male C57BL/6N mice were treated subchronically (7 days) with finasteride or vehicle. Adult neurogenesis was assessed at two different time points after treatment (day 1; day 35) using immunohistochemistry.

RESULTS:

Finasteride treatment led to a significant decrease in brain 5alpha-dihydrotestosterone levels and induced a reversible reduction in the number of newborn cells and young neurons in the hippocampus. 35 days after the last finasteride injection, neurogenesis had returned to normal.

DISCUSSION:

These data indicate that inhibition of 5-alpha-reductase activity by finasteride treatment influences neuronal plasticity on a structural level. These changes might contribute to the pathophysiology of depressive episodes observed after finasteride treatment.

Copyright Georg Thieme Verlag KG Stuttgart New York.

PMID:
20486040
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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