Decreased anticonvulsant efficacy of allopregnanolone during ethanol withdrawal in female Withdrawal Seizure-Prone vs. Withdrawal Seizure-Resistant mice

Ethan H. Beckley, Andrea M. Fretwell, Michelle A. Tanchuck, Katherine R. Gililland, John Jr Crabbe, Deborah (Deb) Finn

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

18 Scopus citations


The GABAergic neurosteroid allopregnanolone (ALLO) has been repeatedly shown to have an increased anticonvulsant effect during ethanol withdrawal in rats and in C57BL/6J mice. In contrast, the seizure prone DBA/2J inbred strain and the Withdrawal Seizure-Prone (WSP) selected line exhibited decreased sensitivity to ALLO's anticonvulsant effect during ethanol withdrawal, with no change in sensitivity in the Withdrawal Seizure-Resistant (WSR) line. To date, only male mice have been tested. Thus, the present study examined ALLO sensitivity during ethanol withdrawal in female WSP and WSR mice, since females display less severe physical symptoms of withdrawal and have higher circulating ALLO levels than males. Female WSP and WSR mice were exposed to ethanol vapor or air for 72 h. During peak ethanol withdrawal, separate groups of mice were injected with vehicle or ALLO (0, 3.2, 10, or 17 mg/kg, i.p.) prior to the timed tail vein infusion of pentylenetetrazol (PTZ). ALLO injection significantly increased the threshold dose for onset to PTZ-induced convulsions, indicating an anticonvulsant effect, in female WSP and WSR mice. During ethanol withdrawal, sensitivity to ALLO's anticonvulsant effect was slightly increased in female WSR mice but was significantly decreased in female WSP mice. This line difference in sensitivity to ALLO during ethanol withdrawal in female mice was similar to that in the male mice. Notably, all seizure prone genotypes tested to date displayed tolerance to the anticonvulsant effect of ALLO during ethanol withdrawal, suggesting that decreased sensitivity of GABAA receptors to ALLO may contribute to the increased ethanol withdrawal phenotype.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)365-374
Number of pages10
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2008



  • Alcohol
  • Convulsions
  • GABA receptors
  • Neurosteroid
  • Pentylenetetrazol
  • Selected lines

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience
  • Drug Discovery
  • Pharmacology

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