The recent FDA approval of the neurosteroid, brexanolone (allopregnanolone), as a treatment for women with postpartum depression, and successful trials of a related neuroactive steroid, SGE-217, for men and women with major depressive disorder offer the hope of a new era in treating mood and anxiety disorders based on the potential of neurosteroids as modulators of brain function. This review considers potential mechanisms contributing to antidepressant and anxiolytic effects of allopregnanolone and other GABAergic neurosteroids focusing on their actions as positive allosteric modulators of GABAA receptors. We also consider their roles as endogenous “stress” modulators and possible additional mechanisms contributing to their therapeutic effects. We argue that further understanding of the molecular, cellular, network and psychiatric effects of neurosteroids offers the hope of further advances in the treatment of mood and anxiety disorders.
- Steroid enantiomers
- Tonic inhibition