SSRIs and the female brain - potential for utilizing steroid-stimulating properties to treat menstrual cycle-linked dysphorias

Thelma Lovick*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

22 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

One unexpected property of selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors is their ability, at doses well below those that effect 5-HT systems, to raise brain concentrations of neuroactive steroids such as the progesterone metabolite allopregnanolone. In women, rapid withdrawal from allopregnanolone when progesterone secretion drops sharply in the late luteal phase precipitates menstrual cycle-linked disorders such as premenstrual syndrome and catamenial epilepsy. Short-term, low-dose fluoxetine during the late luteal phase has the potential to prevent the development of such disorders, by raising brain allopregnanolone concentration. In female rats, withdrawal from allopregnanolone, as ovarian progesterone secretion falls rapidly in the late diestrus phase (similar to late luteal phase in women), induces upregulation of extrasynaptic GABA(A) receptors on GABAergic neurons in brain regions involved in mediating anxiety-like behaviors. The functional consequence of this receptor plasticity is disinhibition of principal neurons, hyperexcitable neuronal circuitry and increased behavioral responsiveness to anxiogenic stress. These withdrawal responses were prevented by short-term treatment with fluoxetine during the late diestrus phase, which raised brain allopregnanolone concentration, so blunting the rapid physiological fall. The steroid-stimulating properties of fluoxetine offer untapped opportunities for developing new treatments for menstrual cycle-linked disorders in women, which are precipitated by abrupt falls in brain concentration of allopregnanolone.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1180-1185
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Psychopharmacology
Volume27
Issue number12
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2013

Keywords

  • SSRIs
  • fluoxetine
  • female brain
  • allopregnanolone
  • neurosteroid replacement
  • anxiety
  • SEROTONIN REUPTAKE INHIBITORS
  • POSTTRAUMATIC-STRESS-DISORDER
  • PERIAQUEDUCTAL GREY-MATTER
  • RECEPTOR ALPHA-4 SUBUNIT
  • GABA(A) RECEPTOR
  • ESTROUS-CYCLE
  • PROGESTERONE WITHDRAWAL
  • MAJOR DEPRESSION
  • WISTAR RATS
  • NEUROACTIVE STEROIDS

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