Steroid hormones and their metabolites within the central nervous system are commonly defined as neuroactive steroids or neurosteroids.
Although neuroactive steroids have been shown to improve learning and memory ability and protect against amyloid beta (Aβ) peptide-induced neurotoxicity, changes in their level during Alzheimer’s disease and their role in Aβ-mediated cognitive impairment remain elusive given the limitation in sample sizes and analysis methods.
To gain a better understanding on the role of neuroactive steroids in the pathology of Alzheimer’s disease, Dr. Sha Liu and colleagues from Hebei Medical University, China investigated the effect of progesterone administration against Aβ25-35-induced impairment in vivo.
In their study, intracerebral injection of aggregated Aβ25-35 into the bilateral hippocampal CA1 region impaired learning and memory abilities of rats, accompanied by reduced levels of progesterone.
Treatment of these Alzheimer’s disease rats with exogenous progesterone could reverse cognitive impairment.
Therefore, this study, published in Neural Regeneration Research (Vol. 8, No. 30, 2013), provides a possible therapeutic strategy for Alzheimer’s disease via neuroactive steroids, particularly progesterone.