Enhanced anticonvulsant activity of ganaxolone after neurosteroid withdrawal in a rat model of catamenial epilepsy

D. S. Reddy, Michael A Rogawski

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102 Scopus citations


Perimenstrual catamenial epilepsy, the exacerbation of seizures in association with menstruation, may in part be due to withdrawal of the progesterone metabolite allopregnanolone (3α-hydroxy-5α-pregnan-20-one), an endogenous anticonvulsant neurosteroid that is a positive allosteric modulator of γ-aminobutyric acid(A) receptors. Neurosteroid replacement is a potential approach to therapy, but natural neurosteroids have poor bioavailability and may be converted to metabolites with undesired progestational activity. The synthetic neuroactive steroid ganaxolone (3α-hydroxy-3β-methyl-5α-pregnane-20-one) is an orally active analog of allopregnanolone that is not converted to the hormonally active 3-keto form. To assess the potential of ganaxolone in the treatment of catamenial seizure exacerbations, a state of persistently high serum progesterone (pseudopregnancy) was induced in 26-day-old female rats with gonadotropins, and neurosteroids were withdrawn on postnatal day 39 with finasteride, a 5α-reductase inhibitor that blocks the conversion of progesterone to allopregnanolone. Finasteride treatment during pseudopregnancy results in a reduction in the threshold for pentylenetetrazol seizures. During this state of enhanced seizure susceptibility, there was a 3-fold increase in the anticonvulsant potency of ganaxolone (control ED50) = 3.5 mg/kg; withdrawn = 1.2 mg/kg) without a change in the potency for induction of motor toxicity in the rotarod test. The plasma concentrations of ganaxolone did not differ significantly in control and withdrawn animals; the estimated plasma concentrations of ganaxolone producing 50% seizure protection were ~500 and ~225 ng/ml in control and withdrawn rats, respectively. Unlike ganaxolone, neurosteroid withdrawal was associated with a decrease in the anticonvulsant potency of diazepam (control ED50 = 1.9 mg/kg; withdrawn = 4.1 mg/kg) and valproate (control ED50) = 279 mg/kg; withdrawn = 460 mg/kg). The enhanced anticonvulsant potency of ganaxolone after neurosteroid withdrawal supports the use of ganaxolone as a specific treatment for perimenstrual catamenial epilepsy.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)909-915
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2000
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pharmacology


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