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Neuropsychopharmacology. 2011 Jun;36(7):1518-30. doi: 10.1038/npp.2011.37. Epub 2011 Mar 23.

Fluoxetine, desipramine, and the dual antidepressant milnacipran reduce alcohol self-administration and/or relapse in dependent rats.

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Equipe Région INSERM ERI 24, Groupe de Recherche sur l'Alcool et les Pharmacodépendances, Université de Picardie Jules Verne, Faculté de Pharmacie, Amiens, France.


A few clinical studies have shown that dual antidepressants (serotonergic (5-HT) and noradrenergic (NE) transporter inhibitors, SNRIs) may be effective in alcoholism treatment. We studied the effect of the dual antidepressant milnacipran on ethanol operant self-administration in acutely withdrawn ethanol-dependent and in -non-dependent Wistar rats, and used fluoxetine and desipramine to dissect both 5-HT and NE components, respectively, in the effect of milnacipran. Milnacipran was also tested for relapse after protracted abstinence and on ethanol-induced (1.0 g/kg) conditioned place preference in control rats and ethanol-induced locomotor sensitization in DBA/2J female mice. Milnacipran dose dependently (5-40 mg/kg) attenuated the increased ethanol self-administration observed during early withdrawal and was more potent in preventing reinstatement in dependent rats after protracted abstinence as compared with non-dependent rats. Desipramine and fluoxetine (10 mg/kg) blocked ethanol self-administration during early withdrawal, and recovery was delayed in dependent animals, indicating a potent effect. Ethanol self-administration was also reduced 1 day after treatment with desipramine and fluoxetine but not with milnacipran. Finally, milnacipran prevented ethanol-induced place preference in ethanol-naive rats and reduced the magnitude of ethanol-induced sensitization associated with a delayed induction in mice. Desipramine (20 mg/kg) countered sensitization development and reduced its expression at 1 week after treatment; fluoxetine (10 mg/kg) reduced sensitization expression. Thus, 5-HT and NE transmissions during sensitization expression may mediate the effect of milnacipran on sensitization induction. These results support that SNRIs may have a potential use in alcoholism treatment.

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