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Scripps Research scientists find seizure drug reverses cellular effects
Date:5/28/2008

In the new research, published in the May 28, 2008 edition of The Journal of Neuroscience, the scientists found that gabapentin normalizes the action of certain brain cells altered by chronic alcohol abuse in an area of the brain known as the central amygdala, which plays an important role in fear- and stress-related behaviors, as well as in regulating alcohol drinking. In the study, alcohol-dependent rodents receiving gabapentin drank less alcohol.

The results are exciting, said Scripps Research Assistant Professor Marisa Roberto, Ph.D., who was first author of the study. Our research shows that gabapentin not only changes the alcohol-consumption patterns of addicted rats (and not of the control group), but also may reverse some of the effects of addiction on a specific neurotransmitter in the brain.

"This is an example of the strength of the translational approach of the Pearson Center, where the clinical uses of gabapentin led us to hypothesize that gabapentin may act to restore homeostatic dysregulation of the GABAergic system," said George Koob, Ph.D., chair of the Scripps Research Committee on the Neurobiology of Addictive Disorders and co-director of the Pearson Center for Alcoholism and Addiction Research at Scripps Research. "Cellular and behavioral studies converged to suggest that indeed gabapentin could normalize GABAergic tone in a specific brain region known to be dysregulated in dependent animals. Such results provide a strong rationale for translating these observations back to the clinical setting for the treatment of alcoholism."

In previous studies, gabapentin has been shown to effectively treat alcohol withdrawal and reduce alcohol consumption and cravings following detoxification in alcoholics. However, how gabapentin could act to combat alcohol dependence in the brain has been unclear. The new study sheds light on this question by detailing the action of gabapentin (known commercially as Neurontin)a structural a
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Contact: Keith McKeown
kmckeown@scripps.edu
858-784-8134
Scripps Research Institute
Source:Eurekalert

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