Lifetime prevalence estimates for binge eating disorder (BED) and bulimia nervosa (BN) are 3.5% and 1.5% among women and 2.0% and 0.5% among men, respectively. Night eating syndromes (NES) affect 1.1%-1.5% of the general population. All of these disorders induce an impaired quality of life and significant disability. Symptom overlaps are reported between substance use disorders and eating disorders such as BED, BN and NES. A growing body of evidence suggests that γ-amino-butyric acid (GABA) and glutamate modulation pathways might be useful targets in the treatment of alcohol and substance use disorders. Their involvement in the reward process and in the regulation of food intake could be the source of new pharmacological strategies for the treatment of eating disorders. We review published data on the efficacy and safety of drugs targeting the GABA and glutamate modulation pathways for the treatment of BED, BN and NES. Preliminary results indicate that baclofen and topiramate are effective in reducing binge eating, craving and weight gain. However, the potential clinical drug-placebo difference is not detected for acamprosate and lamotrigine. Limitations of these studies are discussed. In view of these data, first- and second-line pharmacological interventions are proposed.
Keywords: GABA, glutamate, topiramate, baclofen, binge eating, eating disorders, lamotrigine, fluoxetine, laxatives, diuretics, parasomnias, obstructive, atomoxetine, zonisamide, sibutramine, zolpidem
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