Finasteride inhibits the conversion of testosterone to dihydrotestosterone. Because androgen regulates dopaminergic system in the brain, it could be hypothesized that finasteride may inhibit dopaminergic system. The present study therefore investigates the effects of finasteride in adolescent and early developmental rats on dopaminergic system, including contents of dopamine and its metabolites (dihydroxy phenyl acetic acid and homovanillic acid) and tyrosine hydroxylase expressions both at gene and protein levels. Meanwhile, open‐field behaviors of the rats are examined because of the regulatory effect of dopaminergic system on the behaviors.
Open‐field behaviors were evaluated by exploratory and motor behaviors. Dopamine and its metabolites were assayed by liquid chromatography‐mass spectrometry. Tyrosine hydroxylase mRNA and protein expressions were determined by real‐time qRT‐PCR and western blot, respectively.
It was found that in adolescent male rats, administration of finasteride at doses of 25 and 50 mg/kg for 14 days dose dependently inhibited open‐field behaviors, reduced contents of dopamine and its metabolites in frontal cortex, hippocampus, caudate putamen, nucleus accumbens, and down‐regulated tyrosine hydroxylase mRNA and protein expressions in substantia nigra and ventral tegmental area. However, there was no significant change of these parameters in early developmental rats after finasteride treatment.
These results suggest that finasteride inhibits dopaminergic system and open‐field behaviors in adolescent male rats by inhibiting the conversion of testosterone to dihydrotestosterone, and imply finasteride as a potential therapeutic option for neuropsychiatric disorders associated with hyperactivities of dopaminergic system and androgen.
Keywords: adolescence, dopaminergic system, finasteride, open‐field behaviors, rat