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Hoffmann, R. A wiki for the life sciences where authorship matters. Nature Genetics (2008)

Peripheral-type benzodiazepine receptor in neurosteroid biosynthesis, neuropathology and neurological disorders.

The peripheral-type benzodiazepine receptor is a mitochondrial protein expressed at high levels in steroid synthesizing tissues, including the glial cells of the brain. Peripheral-type benzodiazepine receptor binds cholesterol with high affinity and is a key element of the cholesterol mitochondrial import machinery responsible for supplying the substrate cholesterol to the first steroidogenic enzyme, thus initiating and maintaining neurosteroid biosynthesis. Neurosteroid formation and metabolism of steroid intermediates are critical components of normal brain function. Peripheral-type benzodiazepine receptor also binds with high affinity various classes of compounds. Upon ligand activation peripheral-type benzodiazepine receptor-dependent cholesterol transport into mitochondria is accelerated leading in increased formation of neuroactive steroids. These steroids, such as allopregnanolone, have been shown to be involved in various neurological disorders, such as anxiety and mood disorders. Thus, peripheral-type benzodiazepine receptor drug ligand-induced neuroactive steroid formation offers a means to regulate brain dysfunction. Peripheral-type benzodiazepine receptor basal expression is upregulated in a number of neuropathologies, including gliomas and neurodegenerative disorders, as well as in various forms of brain injury and inflammation. In Alzheimer's disease pathology neurosteroid biosynthesis is altered and a decrease in the intermediate 22R-hydroxycholesterol levels is observed. This steroid was found to exert neuroprotective properties against beta-amyloid neurotoxicity. Based on this observation, a stable spirostenol derivative showing to display neuroprotective properties was identified, suggesting that compounds developed based on critical intermediates of neurosteroid biosynthesis could offer novel means for neuroprotection. In conclusion, changes in peripheral-type benzodiazepine receptor and neurosteroid levels are part of the phenotype seen in neuropathology and neurological disorders and offer potential targets for new therapies.[1]


  1. Peripheral-type benzodiazepine receptor in neurosteroid biosynthesis, neuropathology and neurological disorders. Papadopoulos, V., Lecanu, L., Brown, R.C., Han, Z., Yao, Z.X. Neuroscience (2006) [Pubmed]
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