Pregnanolone glutamate (PA-G) is a neuroactive steroid that has been previously demonstrated to be a potent neuroprotective compound in several biological models in vivo. Our in vitro experiments identified PA-G as an inhibitor of N-methyl-D-aspartate receptors and a potentiator of γ-aminobutyric acid receptors (GABAARs).
In this study, we addressed the hypothesis that combined GABAAR potentiation and NMDAR antagonism could afford a potent anticonvulsant effect. Our results demonstrated the strong age-related anticonvulsive effect of PA-G in a model of pentylenetetrazol-induced seizures. PA-G significantly decreased seizure severity in 12-day-old animals, but only after the highest dose in 25-day-old animals. Interestingly, the anticonvulsant effect of PA-G differed both qualitatively and quantitatively from that of zuranolone, an investigational neurosteroid acting as a potent positive allosteric modulator of GABAARs. Next, we identified 17-hydroxy-pregnanolone (17-OH-PA) as a major metabolite of PA-G in 12-day-old animals.
Finally, the administration of PA-G demonstrated direct modulation of unexpected neurosteroid levels, namely pregnenolone and dehydroepiandrosterone sulfate. These results suggest that compound PA-G might be a pro-drug of 17-OH-PA, a neurosteroid with a promising neuroprotective effect with an unknown mechanism of action that may represent an attractive target for studying perinatal neural diseases.