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

Yossef Itzhak, Michael D. Norenberg

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

21 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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