1. Dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA) and its sulfate (DHEAS) are sex hormone precursors which exert marked neurotrophic and/or neuroprotective activity in the central nervous system (CNS). 2. In the present electrophysiological experiments, we studied the effects of peripherally administered DHEAS on responses of the primary somatosensory (SSI) and motor cortices (MI) of (i) anesthetized controls and (ii) MI focal cold-lesioned rats. (iii) The effects of DHEAS on the field excitatory postsynaptic potentials (fEPSPs) were also studied in vitro brain slices. DHEAS (50 mg/kg) was injected subcutaneously 12 h before and immediately after cold lesion induction. The anesthetized rats were fixed in a stereotaxic frame, the SSI and MI were exposed, and control SSI and MI responses were evoked by contralateral whisker pad stimulation. After registration of the evoked responses for a 35-min period, a copper cylinder (2 mm in diameter) cooled with a mixture of acetone and dry ice (-78°C) was applied to produce a lesion in the MI and the registration of the evoked responses was then continued for an additional 360 min. 3. In the controls, DHEAS administration resulted in slight increases in amplitude of both the SSI and the MI responses. After focal cold lesion induction, the most significant reduction in amplitude was observed at the focus of the lesion in the primary MI, but the amplitudes of the SSI responses were also decreased. After 3-5 h of lesion induction, the amplitudes started to increase around the injury in the primary MI, while the SSI response had already started to recover 2 h after induction of the MI lesion. In the course of the postlesion recovery period, the MI responses peripherally to the center of the lesion frequently exhibited extremely high and low amplitudes. The paired-pulse paradigm revealed changing, but basically high levels of disinhibition and facilitation in extended cortical areas after focal cortical cold lesion induction. The deviations (e.g., the extremely augmented responses) in cortical functioning of the anesthetized rats were unambiguously diminished by DHEAS administration, and the period required for the cortical responses to recover was significantly shorter after the steroid treatment. In the in vitro studies, however, DHEAS administration resulted in an enhanced level of disinhibition in extended cortical areas of both the hemispheres. 4. This observation draws attention to the possible differences between the results obtained in different models (in vitro vs. in situ). Nevertheless, all the presented data suggest that DHEAS treatment might have neuroprotective effect on the neocortex at least at a short-time scale.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience
- Cell Biology