Sleep induction by an adrenal steroid in the rat

W. B. Mendelson, J. V. Martin, M. Perlis, R. Wagner, M. D. Majewska, S. M. Paul

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

138 Scopus citations


The ring A reduced metabolites of deoxycorticosterone and progesterone, 3alpha,5alpha-tetrahydrodeoxycorticosterone (THDOC) and 3alpha-hydroxy-5alpha-dihydroprogesterone (3alpha-OH-DHP) have been shown to be potent barbiturate-like ligands of the benzodiazepine receptor complex. The former has also been reported to have anxiolytic effects in mice and rats. In the present study, sleep recordings were obtained on rats given 5 and 10 mg/kg of these steroids alone and in combination with flurazepam. THDOC, but not 3alpha-OH-DHP, had potent dose-dependent sleep-inducing properties and increased nonREM sleep. Flurazepam had similar hypnotic effects and also reduced REM sleep. There were no significant interactions between THDOC and flurazepam, except in the case of REM latency, which tended to increase when the two compounds were given together. In summary, THDOC, a mineralocorticoid metabolite found in brain, has sedative properties and could conceivably play a role in stress responses.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)226-229
Number of pages4
Issue number2
StatePublished - Oct 1987


  • Barbiturates
  • Benzodiazepines
  • Chloride channel
  • Steroids


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