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Keywords:

  • Neurosteroid;
  • Epileptogenesis;
  • Glia;
  • Finasteride;
  • Pilocarpine;
  • Temporal lobe epilepsy

Summary

Purpose: Cytochrome P450 cholesterol side-chain cleavage enzyme (P450scc) catalyzes the initial step in the biosynthesis of neurosteroids within the brain. We sought to determine which cells express P450cc and whether neurosteroids play a role in the regulation of epileptogenesis following pilocarpine-induced status epilepticus (SE).

Methods: Rats experienced uninterrupted SE or SE terminated with diazepam at 60, 120, and 180 min. P450scc induction in CA3 hippocampus was determined by double immunolabeling with P450scc antiserum and monoclonal antibodies against GFAP (astrocytes), RIP (oligodendrocytes), or heme oxygenase-1 (microglia).

Results: SE was associated with P450scc induction in many astrocytes and a small number of microglia and oligodendrocytes in the hippocampal CA3 strata radiatum and lacunosum-moleculare. The extent of P450scc induction increased with increasing SE duration. Paradoxically, increased P450scc induction in rats experiencing SE for 180 min or more was associated with the delayed onset of spontaneous recurrent seizures. Treatment with the 5α-reductase inhibitor finasteride (100 mg/kg/day for 25 days), which inhibits the synthesis of γ-aminobutyric acid (GABA)A receptor modulating neurosteroids such as allopregnanolone, was associated with a significant reduction in time to the onset of spontaneous seizures in rats exposed to 180-min but not 90-min SE.

Discussion: P450scc is induced by SE in a diverse population of hippocampal glia. Induction of P450scc is associated with the delayed onset of spontaneous seizures. Conversely, inhibition of neurosteroid synthesis accelerated the onset of spontaneous seizures, but only in animals exhibiting significant increases in P450scc. These findings suggest that induction of neurosteroid synthesis in reactive glial cells is associated with delayed onset of spontaneously recurrent seizures.