Neuroactive steroids are efficacious modulators of g-Aminobutyric acid type A receptor (GABAA) receptor function. The effects of steroids on the GABAA receptor are typically determined by comparing steady-state single-channel open probability or macroscopic peak responses elicited by GABA in the absence and presence of a steroid. Due to differences in activation conditions (exposure duration, concentration of agonist), it is not obvious whether modulation measured using typical experimental protocols can be used to accurately predict the effect of a modulator on native receptors under physiologic conditions. In the present study, we examined the effects of 14 neuroactive steroids and analogs on the properties of spontaneous inhibitory postsynaptic currents (sIPSCs) in cultured rat hippocampal neurons. The goal was to determine whether the magnitude of modulation of the decay time course of sIPSCs correlates with the extent of modulation and kinetic properties of potentiation as determined in previous singlechannel studies. The steroids were selected to cover a wide range of efficacy on heterologously expressed rat a1b2g2L GABAA receptors, ranging from essentially inert to highly efficacious (strong potentiators of single-channel and macroscopic peak responses). The data indicate a strong correlation between prolongation of the decay time course of sIPSCs and potentiation of single-channel open probability. Furthermore, changes in intracluster closed time distributions were the single best predictor of prolongation of sIPSCs. We infer that the information obtained in steady-state single-channel recordings can be used to forecast modulation of synaptic currents.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)399-406
Number of pages8
JournalMolecular pharmacology
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 2016


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