Varenicline Curbs Ethanol Seeking, Consumption in Rats

Recently approved anti-smoking drug could also fight alcohol addiction

THURSDAY, June 12 (HealthDay News) -- The recently approved anti-smoking drug varenicline (Chantix) may also reduce dependence on alcohol, according to the results of a study in rats published online July 11 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science.

Selena Bartlett, Ph.D., of the University of California San Francisco, and colleagues studied the effect of varenicline, an alpha-4/beta-2 nicotinic acetylcholine receptor partial agonist, on ethanol seeking and consumption in rats.

Varenicline (at least 1 mg/kg body weight) significantly reduced ethanol seeking, but not sucrose seeking, in an operant self-administration model of drinking and reward seeking. Naltrexone, in contrast, reduced both ethanol and sucrose reward seeking.

In a continuous-access, two-bottle choice assay involving high levels of ethanol, varenicline reduced ethanol consumption for up to 24 hours relative to control. Chronic drug administration of varenicline over six days did not reduce drug efficacy, and withholding the drug caused no rebound increase in ethanol consumption.

"Varenicline may represent a safe and effective treatment for alcohol dependence," the authors write.

The authors did not report any conflicts of interest and the study was not industry funded.

Full Text (subscription or payment may be required)

Physician's Briefing