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Alcohol. 2000 Jan;20(1):19-29.

Effects of phentermine and fenfluramine on alcohol consumption and alcohol withdrawal seizures in rats.

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Department of Psychology, Rutgers University, New Brunswick, NJ 08904, USA.


The drug combination of phentermine plus fenfluramine has been used clinically in both the treatment of obesity and alcoholism. The aim of the current study was to assess the interaction of the two drugs on consumption of both an alcohol-containing and a nonalcoholic diet. Furthermore, the efficacy of the drug combination on suppression of withdrawal seizures was determined. Animals were either maintained on a 6% alcohol-containing diet, free-fed an isocaloric control, or pair-fed the control diet. It was observed that, with regard to body weight growth curves, alcohol provides about 2.5 kcal/g. Both phentermine and fenfluramine caused a decrease in consumption 1 h after administration; however, during the next 23 h, 4 mg/kg phentermine significantly increased consumption of all diets. At doses of 1 and 2 mg/kg, fenfluramine selectively reduced consumption of the alcohol-containing diet as compared to the isocaloric diets. Lower doses of fenfluramine blocked the increases in consumption induced by phentermine. Furthermore, in animals fed the nonalcoholic diet, the drug combination of 2 mg/kg fenfluramine plus 8 mg/kg phentermine produced a 63-82% reduction in consumption, an effect not seen when either drug was administered alone. This greater than additive effect was also seen in the earlier time periods in animals pair-fed the control diet. Neurochemical analysis from these animals revealed that the alcohol-dependent animals displayed a significant reduction of DOPAC and 5-HIAA levels in the striatum, frontal cortex, and hypothalamus after a 9-h withdrawal period, further implicating the serotonergic and dopaminergic systems in mediation of withdrawal symptoms and alcohol craving. Finally, 8 mg/kg phentermine plus 8 mg/kg fenfluramine completely abolished alcohol withdrawal seizures, compared to a 78% rate in saline treated rats. In conclusion, the coadministration of phentermine plus fenfluramine produced a moderate reduction of alcohol consumption and was completely effective at reducing alcohol withdrawal seizures.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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