The neurosteroid pregnenolone sulphate increases dopamine release and the dopaminergic response to morphine in the rat nucleus accumbens
Barrot M, Vallee M, Gingras MA,
Le Moal M, Mayo W, Piazza PV
Eur J Neurosci 1999 Oct; 11(10):3757-3760


Neurosteroids are a subclass of steroids that can be synthesized in the central nervous system independently of peripheral sources. Clinical studies in humans have associated some of these hormones with a generic sensation of 'well-being' and with pathologies such as depression. In rodents, the neurosteroid pregnenolone sulphate (Preg-S) has been shown to present antidepressant-like effects. These observations suggest that neurosteroids could interact with reward-related processes, mood and motivation. However, the possible neural substrates of such an effect remain unclear. In this report, we studied the action of Preg-S on the activity of the mesencephalic dopaminergic projection to the nucleus accumbens which is considered one of the biological substrates of motivation and reward. Both the direct effect of Preg-S and the influence of this hormone on the dopaminergic response to the pharmacological reward provided by the opiate morphine, were studied by means of microdialysis. Pregnenolone sulphate dose-dependently increased dopamine release in the nucleus accumbens. Furthermore, this hormone doubled the dopaminergic response to morphine. These effects were observed for Preg-S doses of 100, 200, and 400 pmol injected intracerebroventricularly. The stimulant effect of Preg-S on dopamine could mediate some of the behavioural effects of neurosteroids and in particular the interaction of these hormones with mood and motivation.

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