Medications Acting on the GABA System in the Treatment of Alcoholic Patients

Author(s): Fabio Caputo, Mauro Bernardi.

Journal Name: Current Pharmaceutical Design

Volume 16 , Issue 19 , 2010

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Abstract:

Gamma aminobutyric acid (GABA) represents the major inhibitory neurotransmitter of the central nervous system. Ethanol as well as benzodiazepines (BDZs) and some anticonvulsant drugs directly affect GABAA receptors inducing similar anxiolytic, sedativehypnotic, and anticonvulsant effects. Since BDZs have proven their efficacy in ameliorating symptoms and in decreasing the risk of seizures and delirium tremens, they are the drugs of choice for the treatment of alcohol withdrawal syndrome (AWS). However, due to their addictive potential and lack of safety when combined with alcohol, BDZs are usually not recommended for the maintenance of alcohol abstinence. Other GABA-ergic medications represent potentially promising drugs useful in the treatment of AWS and in maintaining alcohol abstinence. Indeed, available studies have demonstrated that clomethiazole, gabapentin and gamma hydroxybutyrate (GHB) present a similar efficacy to BDZs in suppressing AWS. In addition, current evidence also indicates that gabapentin and GHB do not have significant interactions with ethanol that render them safe to use in maintaining alcohol abstinence. Moreover, gabapentin and valproic acid may be beneficial in maintaining alcohol abstinence in alcoholics with psychiatric co-morbidity. Pregabalin, neurosteroids, tiagabine, and vigabatrin need further clinical evidence of efficacy, safety and tolerability. Thus, given the importance of GABA-ergic mechanisms in the development and maintenance of alcohol dependence, and the very interesting results currently achieved, more research on GABA-ergic agents is warranted.

Keywords: Alcoholism, alcohol withdrawal syndrome, maintenance of abstinence from alcohol, benzodiazepines, gabapentin, gamma hydroxybutyrate, valproic acid

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Article Details

VOLUME: 16
ISSUE: 19
Year: 2010
Page: [2118 - 2125]
Pages: 8
DOI: 10.2174/138161210791516468
Price: $58

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