The anesthetic steroid (+)-3alpha-hydroxy-5alpha-androstane-17beta-carbonitrile blocks N-, Q-, and R-type, but not L- and P-type, high voltage-activated Ca2+ current in hippocampal and dorsal root ganglion neurons of the rat

Y M Nakashima, S M Todorovic, D F Covey, C J Lingle
Molecular Pharmacology 1998, 54 (3): 559-68
High voltage-activated (HVA) Ca2+ current (ICa) was recorded from neonatal rat hippocampal and adult rat dorsal root ganglion neurons. In both cell types, (+)-3alpha-hydroxy-5alpha-androstane-17beta-carbonitrile [(+)-ACN], a neuroactive steroid, had no effect on nifedipine- (L-type) or omega-agatoxin IVA- (P-type) sensitive ICa. Selective blockade of N-type current with omega-conotoxin GVIA and of Q-type current with omega-conotoxin MVIIC indicated that (+)-ACN inhibits both N- and Q-type current components in both cell types. Current persisting after blockade of all other current components (R-type) was also sensitive to (+)-ACN. Half-blockade of (+)-ACN-sensitive HVA current occurred in the range of 3-25 microM, with N-type current somewhat more sensitive than Q- or R-type. The (+)-ACN enantiomer, (-)-ACN, and pregnanolone were somewhat less effective at inhibiting total HVA current than (+)-ACN, whereas several steroid analogs, including alfaxalone, were relatively ineffective at inhibiting total HVA current. Neither guanosine-5'-O-(2-thio)diphosphate nor guanosine-5'-O-(3-thio)triphosphate altered the ability of (+)-ACN to inhibit HVA current in dorsal root ganglion neurons, indicating that (+)-ACN acts directly on Ca2+ channels. The partial selectivity exhibited by (+)-ACN among different HVA current components suggests that manipulations of steroid analogues may be a useful strategy in the generation of more selective, more potent, small-molecular-weight HVA channel blockers.

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