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Prog Brain Res. 2008;172:385-406. doi: 10.1016/S0079-6123(08)00919-9.

Dopamine/serotonin releasers as medications for stimulant addictions.

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Clinical Psychopharmacology Section, Intramural Research Program, National Institute on Drug Abuse, National Institutes of Health, DHHS, Baltimore, MD, USA.


The use of 'agonist therapy' for cocaine and methamphetamine addiction involves administration of stimulant-like medications (e.g. monoamine releasers) to reduce withdrawal symptoms and prevent relapse. A significant problem with this strategy is that many candidate medications possess abuse liability due to activation of mesolimbic dopamine (DA) neurons in the brain. One way to reduce DA-mediated abuse liability of candidate drugs might be to add in serotonin (5-HT)-releasing properties, since substantial evidence shows that 5-HT neurons provide an inhibitory influence over mesolimbic DA neurons. This chapter addresses several key issues related to the development of dual DA/5-HT releasers for the treatment of substance use disorders. First, we briefly summarize the evidence supporting a dual deficit in DA and 5-HT function during withdrawal from chronic cocaine or alcohol abuse. Second, we discuss data demonstrating that 5-HT release can dampen DA-mediated stimulant effects, and the 'anti-stimulant' role of 5-HT(2C) receptors is considered. Next, the mechanisms underlying potential adverse effects of 5-HT releasers are described. Finally, we discuss recently published data with PAL-287, a novel non-amphetamine DA/5-HT-releasing agent that suppresses cocaine self-administration but lacks positive reinforcing properties. It is concluded that DA/5-HT releasers could be useful therapeutic adjuncts for the treatment of cocaine and alcohol addictions as well as for obesity, attention deficit disorder and depression.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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