Stress-induced changes of neurosteroid profiles in rat brain and plasma under immobilized condition

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In this study, various neurosteroids in brain and plasma were simultaneously determined using liquid chromatography-tandem mass spectrometry and their profile changes in a stress-induced rats were investigated. The investigated neurosteroids are as follows: progesterone (P4), 5α-dihydroprogesterone (5α-DHP), 5β-dihydroprogesterone, estrone, androstenedione (AE), cortisol, cortisone, corticosterone (CORT), dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA), pregnanolone (3α,5β-THP), allopregnanolone (ALLO), 11-deoxycorticosterone (DOC), 11-deoxycortisol, pregnenolone (PREG), and 5α/5β-tetrahydrodeoxycorticosterone (5α/5β-THDOC). Brain and plasma samples were processed using solid-phase extraction with methanol and acetic acid (99:1), and derivatized with a hydroxylamine reagent. Separation was achieved within 13 min at a flow rate of 0.4 mL/min with a C18 column (3.0 × 50 mm, 2.7 μm). The triple quadrupole mass spectrometer was operated in the positive electrospray ionization mode. Using this method, the neurosteroid level variation was quantitated and investigated in the brain and plasma upon immobilization stress in rats. As a result, AE, CORT, DOC, P4, 5α-DHP, 5α/5β-THDOC, DHEA, 3α,5β-THP, ALLO, and PREG levels were significantly altered in both the brain and plasma samples when stress was induced. These findings demonstrated that stress leads to the alteration of the GABAergic neurosteroid profile. The present results will be helpful for furthering an understanding of the role of neurosteroids in stressed conditions.

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