A model of the alignment of neurosteroids and ent-neurosteroids at the same binding site on γ-aminobutyric acid type A (GABAA) receptors was evaluated for its ability to identify the structural features in ent-neurosteroids that enhance their activity as positive allosteric modulators of this receptor. Structural features that were identified included: (1) a ketone group at position C-16, (2) an axial 4α-OMe group, and (3) a C-18 methyl group. Two ent-steroids were identified that were more potent than the anesthetic steroid alphaxalone in their threshold for and duration of loss of the righting reflex in mice. In tadpoles, loss of righting reflex for these two ent-steroids occurs with EC50 values similar to those found for allopregnanolone. The results indicate that ent-steroids have considerable potential to be developed as anesthetic agents and as drugs to treat brain disorders that are ameliorated by positive allosteric modulators of GABA A receptor function.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)171-190
Number of pages20
JournalJournal of Medicinal Chemistry
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 9 2014


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