Allopregnanolone as regenerative therapeutic for Alzheimer's disease: Translational development and clinical promise

Ronald W. Irwin, Roberta Diaz Brinton

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

69 Scopus citations


Herein, we review a translational development plan to advance allopregnanolone to the clinic as a regenerative therapeutic for neurodegenerative diseases, in particular Alzheimer's. Allopregnanolone, an endogenous neurosteroid that declines with age and neurodegenerative disease, was exogenously administered and assessed for safety and efficacy to promote neuro-regeneration, cognitive function and reduction of Alzheimer's pathology. Allopregnanolone-induced neurogenesis correlated with restoration of learning and memory function in a mouse model of Alzheimer's disease and was comparably efficacious in aged normal mice. Critical to success was a dosing and treatment regimen that was consistent with the temporal requirements of systems biology of regeneration in brain. A treatment regimen that adhered to regenerative requirements of brain was also efficacious in reducing Alzheimer's pathology. With an optimized dosing and treatment regimen, chronic allopregnanolone administration promoted neurogenesis, oligodendrogenesis, reduced neuroinflammation and beta-amyloid burden while increasing markers of white matter generation and cholesterol homeostasis. Allopregnanolone meets three of the four drug-like physicochemical properties described by Lipinski's rule that predict the success rate of drugs in development for clinical trials. Pharmacokinetic and pharmacodynamic outcomes, securing GMP material, development of clinically translatable formulations and acquiring regulatory approval are discussed. Investigation of allopregnanolone as a regenerative therapeutic has provided key insights into mechanistic targets for neurogenesis and disease modification, dosing requirements, optimal treatment regimen, route of administration and the appropriate formulation necessary to advance to proof of concept clinical studies to determine efficacy of allopregnanolone as a regenerative and disease modifying therapeutic for Alzheimer's disease.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)40-55
Number of pages16
JournalProgress in Neurobiology
StatePublished - Feb 2014
Externally publishedYes


  • Neurogenesis
  • Neurosteroid
  • Pharmacodynamics
  • Pharmacokinetics
  • Regenerative medicine
  • Treatment regimen

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)


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