Steroids and steroid-metabolizing enzymes in the nervous system: Special focus on cell survival and sex hormone synthesis

  • Datum:
  • Plats: A1:107, BMC, Husargatan 3, Uppsala
  • Doktorand: Emanuelsson, Ida
  • Om avhandlingen
  • Arrangör: Institutionen för farmaceutisk biovetenskap
  • Kontaktperson: Emanuelsson, Ida
  • Disputation


Some steroids in the brain and peripheral nervous system have been shown to have neuroprotective effects but the knowledge is limited. The present study examines the effects of steroids including oxysterols, vitamin D and vitamin D analogs on cell viability/growth and steroidogenesis in the nervous system.

Both 24- and 27-hydroxycholesterol reduced staurosporine-induced toxicity in human neuroblastoma SH-SY5Y cells. In addition, 27-hydroxycholesterol decreased the staurosporine-mediated induction of caspases, known to be important in apoptotic events. From the findings it may be concluded that effects of oxysterols on cellular viability are dependent on the concentration and on the type of oxysterol. 24-Hydroxycholesterol was also found to attenuate oxidative stress both in SH-SY5Y cells and astrocytes. The results indicate that during some conditions, oxysterols may have neuroprotective effects.

The vitamin D analogs tacalcitol and calcipotriol strongly reduced proliferation, cell viability and migration of human glioblastoma T98G cells, similarly as 1,25(OH)2D3 , the physiological form of vitamin D. Glioblastoma is the most lethal type of primary tumors in the CNS. These findings suggest that vitamin D analogs are potential candidates in treatment of brain tumors, most likely in combination with other therapies.

Astrocytes were found to be a major site for expression of 3β-hydroxysteroid dehydrogenase (3β-HSD) whereas expression of CYP17A1 was found in both astrocytes and neurons. 3β-HSD and CYP17A1 are important steroidogenic enzymes. Vitamin D inhibited both CYP17A1- and 3β-HSD -mediated activity and mRNA levels, with a stronger effect on mRNA expression than on enzyme activity. This indicates that 1,25(OH)2D3 could affect the production of sex hormones in the brain.

In summary, results from this thesis contribute to the knowledge on the effects of oxysterols on cell viability and oxidative stress in cells from the CNS. Also the results provide data on the effects of vitamin D in the brain and suggest that vitamin D analogs may be promising candidates for treatment of certain brain tumors.