The neurosteroid THDOC differentially affects spatial behavior and anesthesia in Slow and Fast kindling rat strains

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Abstract

Rats selectively bred for “Fast” or “Slow” kindling epileptogenesis express different GABAA receptor subunits that may account for differences in their miniature inhibitory postsynaptic currents (mIPSCs). The neurosteroid tetrahydrodeoxycorticosterone (THDOC), an endogenous modulator of GABA-mediated inhibition with anesthetic properties and effects on mnemonic processes, preferentially enhances the mIPSCs recorded from the interneurons of Fast rats. Here we show that the anesthetic effect of 20 mg/kg THDOC was reduced in Fast compared to Slow rats. Further, as the strains have previously been shown to differ in their spatial learning abilities, we subsequently examined the effect of a lower dose (5 mg/kg) of THDOC on their performance in the Morris water maze using a matching-to-place paradigm. THDOC injection deteriorated the usually superior mnemonic capabilities of the Slow rats, i.e., concept learning as well as working and reference memory, while marginally improving these behaviors in Fast rats. These outcomes may reflect the divergent expression of GABAA receptors or disinhibition on interneurons versus principal cells that have been observed between the two strains. Possible mechanisms are discussed.

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