Evaluating brexanolone for the treatment of postpartum depression

Jennifer L. Payne

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Introduction: Postpartum depression (PPD) is a serious and common complication of childbirth that can have deleterious effects not only on the mother but on the cognitive and behavioral development of exposed children. Brexanolone is a novel, soluble synthetic formulation of the natural hormone allopregnanolone and acts as a positive allosteric modulator of the gamma-aminobutyric acid A receptor (GABAA). Allopregnanolone levels dramatically decrease during the postpartum time-period and some studies indicate lower serum levels of allopregnanolone during pregnancy in women that go on to develop PPD. Areas covered: The author provides an overview of brexanolone as a treatment option for PPD including coverage of its pharmacokinetics, efficacy, safety, and tolerability. Furthermore, the author gives her expert perspectives on its use and its standing in the treatment armamentarium moving forward. Expert opinion: Brexanolone represents a breakthrough for psychiatry due to its novel mechanism of action, its rapid onset of action, and its sustained effects without continued administration. It is appropriate for use in women with moderate to severe PPD. Experience with the medication and further research is needed to clarify whether the current recommended dosing regimen is required for efficacy.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)959-964
Number of pages6
JournalExpert opinion on pharmacotherapy
Issue number8
StatePublished - 2021


  • Brexanolone
  • GABA; neurosteroids
  • allopregnanolone
  • major depression
  • postpartum depression

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pharmacology (medical)
  • Pharmacology


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