, 199:161 | Cite as

Allopregnanolone impairs episodic memory in healthy women

  • Kristiina KaskEmail author
  • Torbjörn Bäckström
  • Lars-Göran Nilsson
  • Inger Sundström-Poromaa
Original Investigation



Allopregnanolone is an endogenous neuroactive steroid that, through its binding to the γ-aminobutyric acid (GABA) A receptor, has GABA-active properties. Animal studies indicate that allopregnanolone administration results in diminished learning and memory impairment. The aim of the current study was to investigate the effect of intravenously administered allopregnanolone on episodic memory, semantic memory, and working memory in healthy women.

Materials and methods

Twenty-eight healthy women were included in the study. The participants were scheduled for the memory tests twice in the follicular phase. During the test sessions, an intravenous allopregnanolone and placebo infusion were administered in a double-blinded, randomized order at intervals of 48 h. Before and 10 min after the allopregnanolone/placebo injections, memory tasks were performed.


The study demonstrated that allopregnanolone impaired episodic memory in healthy women. There was a significant difference between pre- and postallopregnanolone injection episodic memory scores (p < 0.05), whereas there was no change in episodic memory performance following the placebo injections. There was also a significant difference between allopregnanolone and placebo postinjection episodic memory scores (p < 0.05). There were no effects of allopregnanolone on the semantic memory task or working memory task.


Intravenous allopregnanolone impairs episodic memory in healthy women, but there is a high degree of individual variability.


Allopregnanolone Healthy women Follicular phase of menstrual cycle Episodic memory Semantic memory Working memory Estradiol Progesterone 



This study was supported by grants from the Tore Nilsson Foundation, the Swedish Research Council project K2008-54X-20642-01-3, Swedish Council for Working Life and Social Research project 2007-1955, Erik Gadelius Foundation, The Family Planning Foundation Uppsala, Magnus Bergwall Foundation, and The Swedish Society of Medicine. The experiments done in the current study comply with the current laws of Sweden. None of the authors have any financial relationship with the organizations that sponsored the research.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  • Kristiina Kask
    • 1
    Email author
  • Torbjörn Bäckström
    • 2
  • Lars-Göran Nilsson
    • 3
  • Inger Sundström-Poromaa
    • 1
  1. 1.Department Women’s and Children’s Health, University HospitalUppsala UniversityUppsalaSweden
  2. 2.Department of Clinical Science, Obstetrics and GynecologyUmeå UniversityUmeåSweden
  3. 3.Department of PsychologyStockholm UniversityStockholmSweden

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