Pregnenolone

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Description

Pregnenolone, a steroid hormone synthesized from cholesterol, is found in the brain, gonads and adrenal cortex.

Research shows that correcting low steroid hormones can actually help to normalize cholesterol levels. Having a higher-than-ideal cholesterol level might be the body’s way of creating a precursor for the steroid hormones it needs.1,2

Pregnenolone is a precursor to DHEA, progesterone, estrogen, and testosterone. It is also imperative to cognitive function. Pregnenolone levels are highest in the brain and studies have shown that it enhances many of our mental capacities.3 Pregnenolone also benefits mood, sleep, memory, cholesterol, and cellular repair in the brain and nerve tissues.4-10 Pregnenolone enhances the release of acetylcholine, a neurotransmitter that is important to memory function.11 Individuals with memory ailments often have low pregnenolone levels. Pregnenolone can stimulate neuron function to aid memory. Studies have shown levels of pregnenolone to be lower in the brains of people suffering from Alzheimer’s disease.12

Benefits

  • Promotes nerve regeneration
  • Enhances memory9,13
  • Improves sense of well-being14,15
  • Increases energy
  • Improves sleep quality9,16,17
  • Reduces the harmful effects of stress18,19
  • Support healthy moods13,20,21
  • Supports cholesterol homeostasis1,2

Side Effects

There are no reported significant adverse effects. However, pregnenolone may be converted to steroids such as DHEA, which may cause acne, particularly in women. There are no known drug interactions.

Administration

Pregnenolone is generally administered by capsule; however, it can also be utilized in a cream or gel form. It is generally taken in doses ranging between 10–100 mg per day. Since pregnenolone is quickly converted to other hormones in the body, it is difficult to accurately measure. Therefore, as a person ages, it is typically replaced with 25–50 mg per day.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q. What changes will I notice if I take pregnenolone? 
A. Some people do report an improvement in their memory.

Q. Can pregnenolone be measured by a blood test? 
A. Yes it can; however, it is difficult to get an accurate measurement because it converts to other hormones quickly.

References

  1. Dzugan SA, et al. Correction of steroidopenia as a new method of hypercholesterolemia treatment. Neuro Endocrinol Lett. 2011;32(1):77-81.
  2. Dzugan SA, Arnold Smith R. Hypercholesterolemia treatment: a new hypothesis or just an accident? Med Hypotheses. 2002 Dec;59(6):751-6.
  3. Martín-García E, Pallarés M. A post-training intrahippocampal anxiogenic dose of the neurosteroid pregnenolone sulfate impairs passive avoidance retention. Exp Brain Res. 2008 Nov;191(2):123-31.
  4. Yau JL, et al. Central administration of a cytochrome P450-7B product 7 alpha-hydroxypregnenolone improves spatial memory retention in cognitively impaired aged rats. J Neurosci. 2006 Oct 25;26(43):11034-40.
  5. Mayo W, Le Moal M, Abrous DN. Pregnenolone sulfate and aging of cognitive functions: behavioral, neurochemical, and morphological investigations. Horm Behav. 2001 Sep;40(2):215-7.
  6. Mayo W, et al. Individual differences in cognitive aging: implication of pregnenolone sulfate. Prog Neurobiol. 2003 Sep;71(1):43-8.
  7. Rupprecht R. The neuropsychopharmacological potential of neuroactive steroids. J Psychiatr Res. 1997 May-Jun;31(3):297-314.
  8. Steiger A, et al. Neurosteroid pregnenolone induces sleep-EEG changes in man compatible with inverse agonistic GABAA-receptor modulation. Brain Res. 1993 Jul 2;615(2):267-74.
  9. George O, et al. Neurosteroids and cholinergic systems: implications for sleep and cognitive processes and potential role of age-related changes. Psychopharmacology(Berl). 2006 Jun;186(3):402-13.
  10. Mayo W, et al. Pregnenolone sulfate enhances neurogenesis and PSA-NCAM in young and aged hippocampus. Neurobiol Aging. 2005 Jan;26(1):103-14.
  11. Darnaudery, M, et al. Pregnenolone sulfate increases hippocampal acetylcholine release and spatial recognition. Brain Res. 2000 Jan 3;852(1):173-179.
  12. Naylor JC, et al. Allopregnanolone levels are reduced in temporal cortex in patients with Alzheimer's disease compared to cognitively intact control subjects. Biochim Biophys Acta. 2010 Aug;1801(8):951-9.
  13. Marx CE, et al. Pregnenolone as a novel therapeutic candidate in schizophrenia: emerging preclinical and clinical evidence. Neuroscience. 2011 Sep 15;191:78-90.
  14. Barrot M, et al. The neurosteroid pregnenolone sulphate increases dopamine release and the dopaminergic response to morphine in the rat nucleus accumbens. Eur J Neurosci. 1999 Oct; 11(10):3757-3760.
  15. Carta MG, Bhat KM, Preti A. GABAergic neuroactive steroids: a new frontier in bipolar disorders? Behav Brain Funct. 2012 Dec 19;8:61. doi: 10.1186/1744-9081-8-61.
  16. Darbra S, et al. Sleep-wake states and cortical synchronization control by pregnenolone sulfate into the pedunculopontine nucleus. J Neurosci Res. 2004 Jun 1;76(5):742-747.
  17. Terán-Pérez G, et al. Steroid hormones and sleep regulation. Mini Rev Med Chem. 2012 Oct;12(11):1040-8.
  18. Semeniuk T, Jhangri GS, Le Mellédo JM. Neuroactive steroid levels in patients with generalized anxiety disorder. J Neuropsychiatry Clin Neurosci. 2001 Summer;13(3):396-8.
  19. Sripada RK, et al. Allopregnanolone elevations following pregnenolone administration are associated with enhanced activation of emotion regulation neurocircuits. Biol Psychiatry. 2013 Jun 1;73(11):1045-53.
  20. Ritsner MS, et al. Pregnenolone and dehydroepiandrosterone as an adjunctive treatment in schizophrenia and schizoaffective disorder: an 8-week, double-blind, randomized, controlled, 2-center, parallel-group trial. J Clin Psychiatry. 2010 Oct;71(10):1351-62.
  21. Osuji IJ, et al. Pregnenolone for cognition and mood in dual diagnosis patients.Psychiatry Res. 2010 Jul 30;178(2):309-12.
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