IUPAC name
Other names
Eltanolone; 5β-Pregnan-3α-ol-20-one; 3α-Hydroxy-5β-pregnan-20-one; 3α,5β-Tetrahydroprogesterone; 3α,5β-THP; 3α-Hydroxy-5β-tetrahydroprogesterone
3D model (JSmol)
ECHA InfoCard 100.162.192
Molar mass 318.50 g·mol−1
Except where otherwise noted, data are given for materials in their standard state (at 25 °C [77 °F], 100 kPa).
Infobox references

Pregnanolone, also known as eltanolone (INN), is an endogenous neurosteroid that is biosynthesized from progesterone.[1] It is a positive allosteric modulator of the GABAA receptor,[1] as well as a negative allosteric modulator of the glycine receptor,[2] and is known to have sedative, anxiolytic, anesthetic, and anticonvulsant effects.[1][2][3] It was investigated for clinical use as a general anesthetic, but produced unwanted side effects such as convulsions on occasion, and for this reason was never marketed.[2][4]

During pregnancy, pregnanolone and allopregnanolone are involved in sedation and anesthesia of the fetus.[5][6]


Pregnanolone, also known as 3α,5β-tetrahydroprogesterone (3α,5β-THP) or as 5β-pregnan-3α-ol-20-one, is a naturally occurring pregnane steroid and a derivative of progesterone. Related compounds include allopregnanolone (3α,5α-THP), epipregnanolone (3β,5β-THP), hydroxydione, isopregnanolone (3β,5α-THP), and renanolone.


  1. 1 2 3 Reddy DS (2003). "Pharmacology of endogenous neuroactive steroids". Crit Rev Neurobiol. 15 (3-4): 197–234. doi:10.1615/critrevneurobiol.v15.i34.20. PMID 15248811.
  2. 1 2 3 Jürgen Schüttler; Helmut Schwilden (8 January 2008). Modern Anesthetics. Springer Science & Business Media. pp. 278–. ISBN 978-3-540-74806-9.
  3. Carl P, Høgskilde S, Lang-Jensen T, et al. (October 1994). "Pharmacokinetics and pharmacodynamics of eltanolone (pregnanolone), a new steroid intravenous anaesthetic, in humans". Acta Anaesthesiol Scand. 38 (7): 734–41. doi:10.1111/j.1399-6576.1994.tb03987.x. PMID 7839787.
  4. Norman Calvey; Norton Williams (21 January 2009). Principles and Practice of Pharmacology for Anaesthetists. John Wiley & Sons. pp. 110–. ISBN 978-1-4051-9484-6.
  5. Mellor DJ, Diesch TJ, Gunn AJ, Bennet L (2005). "The importance of 'awareness' for understanding fetal pain". Brain Res. Brain Res. Rev. 49 (3): 455–71. doi:10.1016/j.brainresrev.2005.01.006. PMID 16269314.
  6. Lagercrantz H, Changeux JP (2009). "The emergence of human consciousness: from fetal to neonatal life". Pediatr. Res. 65 (3): 255–60. doi:10.1203/PDR.0b013e3181973b0d. PMID 19092726. [...] the fetus is sedated by the low oxygen tension of the fetal blood and the neurosteroid anesthetics pregnanolone and the sleep-inducing prostaglandin D2 provided by the placenta (36).

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