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Biosynthesis of Steroids in the Central Nervous System of Amphibians

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image of Netherlands Journal of Zoology
For more content, see Archives Néerlandaises de Zoologie (Vol 1-17) and Animal Biology (Vol 53 and onwards).

Distribution and activity of steroid producing enzymes have been studied in the central nervous system (CNS) of the frog Rana ridibunda. Cell bodies containing 3β-hydroxysteroid dehydrogenase (3β-HSD)-like immunoreactivity were exclusively observed in the preoptic nucleus, the dorsal infundibular nucleus and the dorsal aspect of the ventral infundibular nucleus. Identification of astrocytes with antisera raised against GFAP, and oligodendrocytes with antisera against galactocerebroside revealed that 3β-HSD is expressed in frog neurones. Biochemistry showed that hypothalamic slices can convert pregnenolone into Δ-3-ketosteroids including progesterone (P) and 17-hydroxyprogesterone (17OH-P); these steroids likely serve as precursors for other neurosteroids. This is the first immunocytochemical localisation of 3Β-HSD in the brain and the first evidence for neurosteroid biosynthesis in a nonmammalian vertebrate.

Affiliations: 1: European Institute for Peptide Research, IFRMP n° 23, Laboratory of Cellular and Molecular Neuroendocrinology, INSERM U413, UA CNRS, University of Rouen, 76821 Mont-Saint-Aignan, France; 2: MRC Group in Molecular Endocrinology, Laval University Hospital Center, Québec GIV 4G2, Canada


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