Neuroactive steroids and peripheral myelin proteins

Valerio Magnaghi, Ilaria Cavarretta, Mariarita Galbiati, Luciano Martini, Roberto C. Melcangi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The present review summarizes observations obtained in our laboratories which underline the importance of neuroactive steroids (i.e., progesterone (PROG), dihydroprogesterone (5α-DH PROG), tetrahydroprogesterone (3α, 5α-TH PROG), testosterone (T), dihydrotestosterone (DHT) and 5α-androstan-3α,17β-diol (3α-diol)) in the control of the gene expression of myelin proteins (i.e. glycoprotein Po (Po) and the peripheral myelin protein 22 (PMP22)) in the peripheral nervous system. Utilizing different in vivo (aged and adult male rats) and in vitro (Schwann cell cultures) experimental models, we have observed that neuroactive steroids are able to stimulate the mRNA levels of Po and PMP22. The effects of these neuroactive steroids, which are able to interact with classical (progesterone receptor, PR, and androgen receptor, AR) and non-classical (GABAA receptor) steroid receptors is further supported by our demonstration in sciatic nerve and/or Schwann cells of the presence of these receptors. On the basis of the observations obtained in the Schwann cells cultures, we suggest that the stimulatory effect of neuroactive steroids on Po is acting through PR, while that on PMP22 needs the GABAA receptor. The present findings might be of importance for the utilization of specific receptor ligands as new therapeutical approaches for the rebuilding of the peripheral myelin, particularly in those situations in which the synthesis of Po and PMP22 is altered (i.e. demyelinating diseases like Charcot-Marie-Tooth type 1A and type 1B, hereditary neuropathy with liability to pressure palsies and the Déjérine-Sottas syndrome, aging, and after peripheral injury).

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)360-371
Number of pages12
JournalBrain Research Reviews
Issue number1-3
Publication statusPublished - 2001


  • Glycoprotien Po
  • Neuroactive steroids
  • Peripheral myelin protien 22
  • Progesterone
  • Schwann cell
  • Testosterone

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)


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