Drug for hormone disorder can help people stay off drinks

February 26th, 2009 - 2:44 pm ICT by IANS  

Washington, Feb 26 (IANS) A drug prescribed for male and female infertility and menstrual disorders could be the key to a more effective treatment for alcoholism.
A study by University of California San Franciso (UCSF)-affiliated Ernest Gallo Clinic and Research Centre showed that “alcoholic” rodents, when injected with cabergoline, decreased their alcohol consumption and alcohol-seeking behaviour and were less likely to relapse.

Cabergoline, which is marketed under the trade name Dostinex, is approved by the US Food and Drug Administration in pill form to treat conditions caused by excess of the hormone prolactin.

The study was led by Dorit Ron, principal investigator at the Gallo Centre and associate neurology professor at UCSF. Notably, cabergoline did not impact the rats’ consumption of sucrose and, in a subgroup of binge-drinking mice, the drug did not appear to significantly affect intake of water or saccharin.

The research builds on an earlier, provocative finding by Ron and her colleagues regarding the protein GDNF (glial cell line-derived neurotrophic factor), which they had injected into rats’ VTA (ventral tegmental area) brain region, associated with drug-seeking behaviour.

In this earlier study, the scientists had trained rats to consume alcohol. Some, like humans, drank in moderation, while others binged. But when GDNF was administered, both heavy and light drinkers lost at least some of their craving for alcohol, said an UCSF release.

This effect became apparent within 10 minutes and lasted at least 24 hours, the scientists discovered. Importantly, administration of GDNF into the brain prevented the rats from relapsing after a period of abstinence.

These findings are online in Biological Psychiatry.

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