Prescription Medications Alter Neuronal and Glial Cholesterol Synthesis

Keri A. Tallman, Luke B. Allen, Korinne B. Klingelsmith, Allison Anderson, Thiago C. Genaro-Mattos, Károly Mirnics, Ned A. Porter, Zeljka Korade

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Scopus citations


Mouse brain contains over 100 million neuronal, glial, and other support cells. Developing neurons and astrocytes synthesize their own cholesterol, and disruption of this process can occur by both genetic and chemical mechanisms. In this study we have exposed cultured murine neurons and astrocytes to six different prescription medications that cross the placenta and blood-brain barriers and analyzed the effects of these drugs on cholesterol biosynthesis by an LC-MS/MS protocol that assays 14 sterols and 7 oxysterols in a single run. Three antipsychotics (haloperidol, cariprazine, aripiprazole), two antidepressants (trazodone and sertraline), and an antiarhythmic (amiodarone) inhibited one or more sterol synthesis enzymes. The result of the exposures was a dose-dependent increase in levels of various sterol intermediates and a decreased level of cholesterol in the cultured cells. Four prescription medications (haloperidol, aripiprazole, cariprazine, and trazodone) acted primarily on the DHCR7 enzyme. The result of this exposure was an increase in 7-dehydrocholesterol in neurons and astrocytes to levels that were comparable to those found in cultured neurons and astrocytes from transgenic mice that carried a Dhcr7 pathogenic mutation modeling the neurodevelopmental disorder Smith-Lemli-Opitz syndrome.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)735-745
Number of pages11
JournalACS Chemical Neuroscience
Issue number4
StatePublished - Feb 17 2021


  • 7-DHC
  • DHCR7
  • DMG method
  • cholesterol
  • desmosterol
  • pharmaceuticals

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Physiology
  • Cognitive Neuroscience
  • Cell Biology


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