Attenuation of ammonia toxicity in mice by PK 11195 and pregnenolone sulfate

Yossef Itzhak, Michael D. Norenberg

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

22 Scopus citations


Ammonia and benzodiazepines are thought to be involved in the pathogenesis of hepatic encephalopathy. The present study was undertaken to evaluate the effect of various benzodiazepine-receptor ligands and neurosteroids on ammonia toxicity in mice. Administration of ammonium acetate (8-15 mmole/kg; i.p.) to Swiss Webster mice resulted in a dose-dependent increase in mortality. Pretreatment with the central benzodiazepine receptor agonist clonazepam or the antagonist Ro15-1788 (7 mg/kg each; i.p.) had no significant effect on the lethal response to 10 mmole/kg ammonium acetate. However, pretreatment with the putative antagonist of the peripheral-type benzodiazepine receptor, PK 11195 (10 mg/kg; i.p.), reduced mortality from 50 to 10%. Ro5-4864 (10 mg/kg; i.p.), an agonist of the peripheral-type benzodiazepine receptors, had no effect on ammonia toxicity. The neurosteroid, pregnenolone sulfate (20 mg/kg; i.p.) reduced mortality from 50 to 25%. The non-competitive N-methyl-d-aspartate (NMDA) receptor antagonist, MK-801 (2 mg/kg; i.p.), had no effect on the lethal response to ammonium acetate. The results from the present study suggest a role for peripheral-type benzodiazepine receptors and specific neurosteroids in the alleviation of ammonia toxicity in mice.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)251-254
Number of pages4
JournalNeuroscience Letters
Issue number2
StatePublished - Dec 5 1994


  • Ammonia
  • Central-type benzodiazepine receptor
  • Hepatic encephalopathy
  • Neurosteroid
  • Peripheral-type benzodiazepine receptor

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)


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