(1) Department of Neurosciences, Charleston Alcohol Research Center, Medical University of South Carolina, Charleston, SC 29425, USA
(2) Department of Psychiatry and Behavioural Sciences, Charleston Alcohol Research Center, Medical University of South Carolina, Charleston, SC 29425, USA
(3) Ralph H. Johnson Veteran Affairs Medical Center, Medical University of South Carolina, Charleston, SC 29425, USA
* Corresponding author Email: email@example.com
† These authors contributed equally to this work.
Alcohol use disorders (AUDs) are a major public health issue and have an enormous social and economic burden in developed, developing and third-world countries. Current pharmacotherapies for treating AUDs suffer from deleterious side effects and are only effective in preventing relapse in a subset of individuals. This signifies an essential need for improved medications to reduce heavy episodic drinking and alcohol-related problems. Growing literature has provided support for the use of anticonvulsants in suppressing symptoms induced by alcohol withdrawal. Emerging clinical and preclinical evidence suggests that a number of well-tolerated anticonvulsants may also decrease alcohol drinking. This review focuses on recent evidence supporting the efficacy of novel anticonvulsants in reducing voluntary alcohol consumption in rodent models.
The data demonstrate that anticonvulsants reduce drinking in standard home cage two-bottle choice paradigms, self-administration of alcohol in operant chambers and cue- and stress-induced reinstatement of alcohol-seeking behaviours in rats and mice. This review also highlights evidence that some anticonvulsants were only moderately effective in reducing drinking in select strains of rodents or models. This suggests that genetics, possible neuroadaptations or the pharmacological target affect the ability of anticonvulsants to attenuate alcohol consumption. Nonetheless, anticonvulsants are relatively safe, have little abuse potential and can work in combination with other drugs.
The results from these preclinical and clinical studies provide compelling evidence that anticonvulsants are a promising class of medication for the treatment of AUDs.