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The additive effect of allopregnanolone on ghrelin's orexigenic effect in rats

Journal article
Authors M. Lofgren
E. Holmberg
T. Backstrom
E. Egecioglu
Suzanne L. Dickson
Published in Neuropeptides
Volume 76
ISSN 0143-4179
Publication year 2019
Published at Institute of Neuroscience and Physiology
Language en
Keywords Ghrelin, Allopregnanolone, Brexanolone, Food intake, GABA(A)-receptor, Patch-clamp, PVN, ARC, gamma-aminobutyric-acid, food-intake, arcuate nucleus, menstrual-cycle, medroxyprogesterone acetate, depot medroxyprogesterone, neurosteroid, modulation, circulating levels, locomotor-activity, evoked currents, Endocrinology & Metabolism, Neurosciences & Neurology, zewlocka b, 1979, life sciences, v25, p937
Subject categories Neurosciences


The progesterone metabolite, allopregnanolone (AlloP), is a GABA(A) receptor modulating steroid and is known to have orexigenic and pro-obesity effects. The neurobiological mechanisms underpinning these effects are most likely due to enhanced GABAergic signaling in the lateral arcuate nucleus (ARC) and medial paraventricular nucleus (PVN) of the hypothalamus. Inspired by the finding that GABAergic signaling is also important for the orexigenic effects of the circulating hormone, ghrelin, we sought to determine the extent to which AlloP (one of the most potent endogenous GABA(A)-receptor modulators) operates alongside ghrelin to enhance food intake. Male rats with ad libitum access to standard chow were injected intravenously with AlloP and/or ghrelin, alone or in combination. The intake of the standard chow was greater after AlloP 1 mg/kg together with ghrelin 30 mu g/kg than with 30 mu g/kg ghrelin alone. Food intake was also increased for the combined treatment of AlloP 0.5 mg/kg + ghrelin 10 mu g/kg, AlloP 1 mg/kg + ghrelin 10 mu g/kg, and AlloP 0.5 mg/kg + ghrelin 30 mu g/kg. There was no significant difference in food intake between the two ghrelin doses or between the two doses of AlloP and the vehicle. In electrophysiological studies, physiologically relevant concentrations of AlloP prolonged the current decay time of spontaneous inhibitory post-synaptic current of dissociated cells of the ARC and PVN. We conclude that AlloP enhances the hyperphagic effect of ghrelin, findings of potential relevance for the hyperphagia associated with the luteal phase of the reproductive cycle.

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