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Psychopharmacology (Berl). 2014 Sep;231(17):3293-312. doi: 10.1007/s00213-014-3435-3. Epub 2014 Jan 31.

Neuroprotection by the synthetic neurosteroid enantiomers ent-PREGS and ent-DHEAS against Aβ₂₅₋₃₅ peptide-induced toxicity in vitro and in vivo in mice.

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  • 1INSERM U788 and Université Paris SUD, Faculté de Médecine, UMR-S788, 94276, Le Kremlin-Bicêtre, France.



Pregnenolone sulfate (PREGS) and dehydroepiandrosterone sulphate (DHEAS) are pro-amnesic, anti-amnesic and neuroprotective steroids in rodents. In Alzheimer's disease (AD) patient's brains, their low concentrations are correlated with high levels of Aβ and tau proteins. The unnatural enantiomer ent-PREGS enhanced memory in rodents. We investigated here whether ent-PREGS and ent-DHEAS could be neuroprotective in AD models.


The effects of PREGS, ent-PREGS, DHEAS and ent-DHEAS against Aβ25-35 peptide-induced toxicity were examined in vitro on B104 neuroblastoma cells and in vivo in mice.


B104 cells pretreated with the steroids before Aβ25-35 were analysed by flow cytometry measuring cell viability and death processes. Mice injected intracerebroventricularly with Aβ25-35 and the steroids were analysed for their memory abilities. Additionally, lipid peroxidation levels in the hippocampus were measured.


ent-PREGS and PREGS significantly attenuated the Aβ25-35-induced decrease in cell viability. Both steroids prevented the Aβ25-35-induced increase in late apoptotic cells. PREGS further attenuated the ratio of necrotic cells. ent-DHEAS and DHEAS significantly reduced the Aβ25-35-induced toxicity and prevented the cells from entering late apoptosis and necrosis. All steroids stimulated neurite outgrowth per se and prevented the Aβ25-35-induced decrease. In vivo, ent-PREGS and ent-DHEAS significantly attenuated the Aβ25-35-induced decrease in memory (spontaneous alternation and passive avoidance) and an increase in lipid peroxidation levels. In contrast to the natural steroids, both enantiomers prevented amnesia when injected 6 h before Aβ25-35 in contrast to the natural steroids.


The unnatural steroids ent-PREGS and ent-DHEAS are potent neuroprotective agents and could be effective therapeutical tools in AD.

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