Neurosteroids for a successful pregnancy

Cheryl A. Frye, Jonathan J. Hirst, Paula J. Brunton, John A. Russell

Research output: Contribution to journalEditorialpeer-review


Steroid hormones play a critical role in the initiation and maintenance of pregnancy. In particular, the important role that the progesterone metabolite, and neurosteroid, allopregnanolone, may play in fetal and adolescent development is becoming increasingly evident. Unlike steroid hormones, neurosteroids act at nontraditional targets in the central and peripheral nervous systems, including GABA(A) receptor complexes. This commentary discusses the three works in this issue that elucidate the important role of allopregnanolone in the mechanisms that regulate stress hypo-sensitivity of rodents in late pregnancy, neuroprotective effects in fetal sheep exposed to a hypoxic insult, and the continuing role that prefrontal cortex formation of allopregnanolone may play on the cognitive development of gestationally stressed rat offspring, grown to adolescence. The narrative that these works comprise was facilitated by the 5(th) International Meeting on Steroids and the Nervous System (Torino, Italy), which is organized to update our knowledge on the relationships between steroid hormones synthesized in different organs and the nervous system. Topics covered in this most recent meeting included sex differences in, and hormonal influences on, cannabinoid-regulated biology; steroids and pain; the importance of co-regulatory factors for steroid receptor action in the brain; mechanism and role of estrogen-induced nonclassical signaling in the brain; vitamin D as the forgotten neurosteroid; neurosteroids and GABA(A) receptors; and pathogenic mechanisms mediated by glucocorticoid receptors in psychiatric disorders. The 6(th) International Meeting on Steroids and the Nervous System will be held in Torino, Italy in February 2011.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)15
Number of pages5
JournalStress: The International Journal on the Biology of Stress
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2011

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