Neuroactive steroids synthesized in neuronal tissue, referred to as neurosteroids, are implicated in proliferation, differentiation, activity and survival of nerve cells. Neurosteroids are also involved in the control of a number of behavioral, neuroendocrine and metabolic processes such as regulation of food intake, locomotor activity, sexual activity, aggressiveness, anxiety, depression, body temperature and blood pressure. In this article, we summarize the current knowledge regarding the existence, neuroanatomical distribution and biological activity of the enzymes responsible for the biosynthesis of neurosteroids in the brain of vertebrates, and we review the neuronal mechanisms that control the activity of these enzymes. The observation that the activity of key steroidogenic enzymes is finely tuned by various neurotransmitters and neuropeptides strongly suggests that some of the central effects of these neuromodulators may be mediated via the regulation of neurosteroid production.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
This work was supported by grants from the Institut National de la Santé et de la Recherche Médical (Inserm U413), The Ministère des Affaires Etrangères (France-Québec exchange Program No. PV-P-73-9 to G.P. and H.V.), a France-Québec exchange program (Inserm-Fonds de la Recherche en Santé du Québec, FRSQ to G.P. and H.V.), France–Korean exchange programs (Inserm-Korea Science and Engineering Foundation, KOSEF to J.Y.S. and H.V.; and Science and Technology Amical Research, STAR to J.L.D.R., J.Y.S. and H.V.), a France–Japan exchange program (Inserm-Japan Society for the Promotion of Science, JSPS to K.T., H.V. and J.L.D.R.), the Plate-forme Régionale de Recherche en Imagerie Cellulaire de Haute-Normandie (PRIMACEN), and the Conseil Régional de Haute-Normandie. H.V. is associated researcher at the Research Center in Molecular Endocrinology, Oncology and Genetics, Laval University, Quebec.
- Biological activities
- Central nervous system
- Neuroanatomical distribution
- Steroidogenic enzymes
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Endocrine and Autonomic Systems