The effect of topiramate on drinking behavior and brain ethanol concentrations in a binge-like model of alcohol consumption
Hawkins, Christina Barrett
Griffin, III, William
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As a chronic relapsing disorder, alcoholism presents not only serious health concerns to abusers, but also national economic costs that arise from health care expenses, crime, and loss of productivity. Because of the widespread occurrence of alcoholism, the increasing knowledge of risk factors, and the known mechanisms of action in the body, many drugs have arisen as possible methods to curb abusive behavior. In this study, we investigate one drug in particular, topiramate, or Topamax. Aside from its role as an anticonvulsant, topiramate is known to cause a reduction in dopamine release in the mesolimbic pathway. Because of dopamine’s role in rewarding behavior and its believed role in the reinforcing effects of alcohol consumption, topiramate shows potential as a drug that can reduce drinking. When measuring alcohol consumption, mice were given access to ethanol for two hours/day for three days and four hours of access on the fourth day. In this model, mice generally drink to a point of intoxication, demonstrating a binge-like consumption found in humans. We found that the administration of topiramate prior to a drinking session significantly reduced the consumption of ethanol as compared to mice solely treated with saline (p<0.001). A neurochemical analysis of cerebrospinal fluid collected during microdialysis, also showed a decrease in the brain ethanol concentration of topiramate treated mice (p<0.001). Ultimately, topiramate may show promise as a pharmaceutical means of not only combating abusive behavior and avoiding symptoms of withdrawal, but also reducing the urge to drink in those suffering from alcoholism.