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Basic Clin Pharmacol Toxicol. 2010 May;106(5):435-44. doi: 10.1111/j.1742-7843.2010.00544.x. Epub 2010 Feb 22.

Effects of the non-competitive NMDA receptor antagonist memantine on the volitional consumption of ethanol by alcohol-preferring rats.

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Department of Pharmacology and Toxicology, Brody School of Medicine at East Carolina University, Greenville, NC 27834, USA.


Potent N-methyl-d-aspartate (NMDA) receptor antagonists decrease volitional consumption of ethanol by rats. This study examined the effects of memantine, a low-affinity, open channel NMDA antagonist, on volitional consumption of ethanol by alcohol-preferring rats and potential locomotor, sedative and hypothermic effects. Volitional consumption of ethanol in a 24-hr two-choice paradigm was determined for male Myers' high-ethanol-preferring (mHEP) rats. Effects of memantine (0.3, 1.0, 3.0 and 10.0 mg/kg, i.p., b.i.d. [twice daily] for 3 days) or vehicle on volitional consumption of ethanol, proportion of ethanol to total fluids consumed, total fluid intake and consumption of food were observed. Potential sedating and locomotor effects of memantine (10.0 mg/kg, i.p., b.i.d.) were determined using an elevated plus maze and an Auto-Track Opto-Varimex activity monitoring system. Rectal temperature was measured to determine if memantine (10.0 mg/kg, i.p.) produces a hypothermic effect. The results indicate that memantine dose-dependently decreased the amount of ethanol and proportion of ethanol to total fluids consumed daily, reaching 48% and 24%, respectively, at the highest dose. These effects did not appear to be anti-caloric. Memantine (10.0 mg/kg) partially reversed both the sedation and the reductions in locomotor activity induced by ethanol. This dose did, however, produce a small, partially reversible hypothermic effect. In conclusion, memantine may decrease ethanol consumption with fewer side effects than other NMDA receptor antagonists, such as phencyclidine (PCP), MK 801 and ketamine.

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