Endogenous steroid production in the spinal cord and potential involvement in neuropathic pain modulation

A. G. Mensah-Nyagan, C. Kibaly, V. Schaeffer, C. Venard, L. Meyer, C. Patte-Mensah

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

61 Scopus citations


It has recently been demonstrated that the spinal cord (SC) is an active production center of neuroactive steroids including pregnenolone, dehydroepiandrosterone, progesterone and allopregnanolone. Indeed, anatomical, cellular and biochemical investigations have shown that the SC dorsal horn (DH), a pivotal structure in nociception, contains various active steroidogenic enzymes such as cytochrome P450side-chain-cleavage, cytochrome P450c17, 3β-hydroxysteroid dehydrogenase, 5α-reductase and 3α-hydroxysteroid oxido-reductase. Reviewed here are several data obtained with in vitro and vivo experiments showing that endogenous steroids synthesized in the SC are involved in the modulation of nociceptive mechanisms. Various approaches were used as the real-time polymerase chain reaction after reverse transcription to determine the effects of neuropathic pain on the expression of genes encoding steroidogenic enzymes in the DH. Combination of the pulse-chase technique with high performance liquid chromatography and continuous flow scintillation detection allowed investigations of the impact of noxious signals on the activity of steroid-producing enzymes in the SC in vitro. Radioimmunological analyses of spinal tissue extracts contributed to determine the link between the painful state and endogenous steroid secretion in the SC in vivo. Finally, the physiological relevance of the modification of endogenous steroid formation in the SC during painful situation was discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)286-293
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Steroid Biochemistry and Molecular Biology
Issue number3-5
StatePublished - Apr 2008

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work was supported by grants from the Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique (CNRS, France), Université Louis Pasteur (Strasbourg, France), Association Titoine (Elbeuf, France) and Conseil Régional d’Alsace. C.K. was a recipient of a fellowship from the Ministère de l’Education Nationale et de la Recherche. V.S. was a recipient of a fellowship from the Neuroscience Upper Rhine Network Neurex. C.V. was supported by a grant (contract CIFRE No. 659/2005) awarded by Laboratoires BOIRON (Sainte-Foy-les-Lyon, France). L.M. was a postdoctoral fellow supported by Association Titoine (Elbeuf, France).


  • Neurosteroid
  • Nociception
  • Pain
  • Sensory system
  • Spinal cord


Dive into the research topics of 'Endogenous steroid production in the spinal cord and potential involvement in neuropathic pain modulation'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this