Analysis of the finasteride treatment and its withdrawal in the rat hypothalamus and hippocampus at whole-transcriptome level

    Silvia Giatti, Luigi Cioffi, Silvia Diviccaro, Rocco Piazza, Roberto Cosimo Melcangi
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    TLDR Finasteride treatment in rats changed the expression of genes related to psychiatric and neurological functions, and these changes persisted after stopping the drug.
    A study on adult male rats investigated the effects of finasteride, a drug used to treat androgenetic alopecia. The rats were treated with 1mg of finasteride per day for 20 days. The results showed that 186 genes in the hypothalamus and 19 in the hippocampus were differentially expressed after finasteride treatment, but no dysregulated genes were identified after drug withdrawal. Some of the differentially expressed genes suggest a potential link with side effects such as depression, anxiety, memory and attention disturbances, and sleep disturbance. The study suggests that finasteride may have broad consequences on the pattern of several other steroids, affecting the plasma and brain levels of neuroactive steroids. The treatment downregulated KCNE2 and CROT genes, which are involved in stress response, seizure susceptibility, lipid metabolism, and fatty acid beta-oxidation. Upregulated genes included HCRT, associated with sleep-wakefulness regulation and psychiatric disorders, and MARCKSL1, VGF, and IRF2BPL, linked to anxiety-like behavior and neurological disorders. These effects persisted even after finasteride withdrawal. The findings suggest that finasteride treatment and withdrawal could lead to side effects related to psychiatric and neurological domains.
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