Background: We recently showed that a neurosteroid analogue, (3β,5β,17β)-3-hydroxyandrostane-17-carbonitrile (3β-OH), induced hypnosis in rats. The aim of the present study was to evaluate the hypnotic and anaesthetic potential of 3β-OH further using electroencephalography. Methods: We used behavioural assessment and cortical electroencephalogram (EEG) spectral power analysis to examine hypnotic and anaesthetic effects of 3β-OH (30 and 60 mg kg−1) administered intraperitoneally or intravenously to young adult male and female rats. Results: We found dose-dependent sex differences in 3β-OH-induced hypnosis and EEG changes. Both male and female rats responded similarly to i.p. 3β-OH 30 mg kg−1. However, at the higher dose (60 mg kg−1, i.p.), female rats had two-fold longer duration of spontaneous immobility than male rats (203.4 [61.6] min vs 101.3 [32.1] min), and their EEG was suppressed in the low-frequency range (2–6 Hz), in contrast to male rats. Although a sex-dependent hypnotic effect was not confirmed after 30 mg kg−1 i.v., female rats appeared more sensitive to 3β-OH with relatively small changes within delta (1–4 Hz) and alpha (8–13 Hz) bands. Finally, 3β-OH had a rapid onset of action and potent hypnotic/anaesthetic effect after 60 mg kg−1 i.v. in rats of both sexes; however, all female rats and only half of the male rats reached burst suppression, an EEG pattern usually associated with profound inhibition of thalamocortical networks. Conclusions: Based on its behavioural effects and EEG signature, 3β-OH is a potent hypnotic in rats, with female rats being more sensitive than male rats.
- power spectral density
- sex differences