Cellular and Molecular Life Sciences CMLS

, Volume 58, Issue 9, pp 1263–1275 | Cite as

Pre-menstrual steroids

  • S.S. Smith


A number of steroid hormones and their metabolites fluctuate in the circulation across the human menstrual cycle. In addition to their classic actions on the hypothalamo-pituitary-gonadal axis, many of these hormones act as 'neuroactive steroids' to alter the function of neurotransmitters, such as GABA, within central nervous system circuits. Clinically, these steroids are important because they have not only acute but also long-term effects, and 'withdrawal' properties. This review discusses the effects of steroids such as 3α-OH-5α-pregnan-20-one (3α,5α-THP or allopregnanolone) which alter GABA function in distinct ways dependent upon the time course of exposure, to either enhance or decrease inhibition in the brain. These effects are discussed in light of recent clinical findings which seek to further character-ize the steroid milieu which underlies pre-menstrual dysphoria.

Key words. Allopregnanolone; withdrawal; α4 subunit; GABAA receptor; pre-menstrual syndrome; PMS; premenstrual dysphoric disorder; PMDD; hippocampus; rat. 


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Copyright information

© Birkhäuser Verlag, 2001

Authors and Affiliations

  • S.S. Smith
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Physiology and Pharmacology, SUNY Health Science Center at Brooklyn, 450 Clarkson Ave. Brooklyn, New York 11203 (USA), Fax: +1 718 270 3103, e-mail: sheryl_smith@netmail.hscbklyn.edu US

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