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Structure-Activity Relationships of Neuroactive Steroids Acting on the GABAA Receptor

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The term “neuroactive steroid” (NAS) refers to steroids which, independent of their origin, are capable of modifying neural activities. These steroids positively or negatively modulate the function of members of the ligand-gated ion channel superfamily. Those with positive allosteric actions on the γ-amino butyric acid type A receptor (GABAA receptor) have been shown to be potent anticonvulsants, anxiolytics, and antistress agents and to possess sedative, hypnotic, and anesthetic activities. New types of neuroactive steroids have been widely sought and structural modifications of the naturally occurring metabolites allopregnanolone, pregnanolone and allotetrahydrodeoxycorticosterone, have been examined in the light of the vast family of GABA receptor subtypes within the brain. Here we review the structure-activity relationship (SAR) of neuroactive steroid analogues obtained by modification of the steroid nucleus, including substitutions at the A, B, C, and D rings and the side chain, with emphasis on the different pharmacophores proposed.

Keywords: GABAA receptor; Neuroactive steroids; anticonvulsant; neurosteroids; structure-activity relationship

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: Departamento de Quimica Organica and UMYMFOR (CONICET-UBA), Facultad de Ciencias Exactas y Naturales, Universidad de Buenos Aires, Pabellon 2, Ciudad Universitaria, C1428EGA Buenos Aires, Argentina.

Publication date: February 1, 2009

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  • Current Medicinal Chemistry covers all the latest and outstanding developments in medicinal chemistry and rational drug design. Each issue contains a series of timely in-depth reviews written by leaders in the field covering a range of the current topics in medicinal chemistry. Current Medicinal Chemistry is an essential journal for every medicinal chemist who wishes to be kept informed and up-to-date with the latest and most important developments.

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