Background: Premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD) is a severe mood disorder with pathological changes rooted in GABRB2 copy number variation. Here, we aimed to elucidate the gene dose effect and allopregnanolone binding mechanism of Gabrb2 on possible PMDD-like and comorbid phenotypes in knockout mice.

Methods: PMDD-like behaviors of Gabrb2-knockout mice were measured through various tests. Western Blot and ELISA were used to detect changes in the GABAAR subunits and related neurotransmitter changes in mice respectively for the internal mechanism. The response of mice to allopregnanolone (ALLO) was examined through an exogenous ALLO injection, then validated by the patch-clamp technique to elaborate the potential mechanism of ALLO-mediated GABAAR.

Results: Gabrb2-knockout mice displayed changes in anxiety-like and depression-like emotions opposite to PMDD symptoms, changes in social, learning, and memory capacities similar to PMDD symptoms, and pain threshold changes opposite to PMDD symptoms. GABAAR δ subunit expression in the brains of the Gabrb2-knockout mice was significantly higher than that of Wild-type mice (P<0.05). Gabrb2-knockout mice demonstrated neurotransmitter metabolism disturbance of GABA, Glu, acetylcholine, DA, norepinephrine, and epinephrine. Moreover, Gabrb2-knockout mice did not display the expected phenotypic effect after ALLO injection. Relative to WT mice, the knockout of the β2 subunit gene enhanced the agonistic effect of ALLO on GABAA receptors in cortical neuronal cells.

Conclusions: GABAAR β 2 regulates PMDD-like behaviors. The ALLO binding site may not be located on β two subunits, abnormal δ and ε subunit expression in the mouse brain and the disturbance of neurotransmitters may result in ALLO sensitivity.