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Addict Biol. 2015 Sep;20(5):890-901. doi: 10.1111/adb.12177. Epub 2014 Aug 20.

Memantine reduces alcohol drinking but not relapse in alcohol-dependent rats.

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INSERM ERI 24, Groupe de Recherche sur l'Alcool et les Pharmacodépendances (GRAP), UFR de Pharmacie, Université de Picardie Jules Verne, Amiens, France.


Alcoholism is a chronic relapsing disorder with consequences on health and that requires more effective treatments. Among alternative therapies, the therapeutic potential of the non-competitive N-methyl-D-aspartate receptor antagonist memantine has been suggested. Despite promising results, its efficiency in the treatment of alcoholism remains controversial. Currently, there is no pre-clinical data regarding its effects on the motivation for ethanol in post-dependent (PD) animals exposed to intermittent ethanol vapor, a validated model of alcoholism. Thus, the objectives of this study were to evaluate the effects of acute injections of memantine (0, 12.5, 25 and 50 mg/kg) on operant ethanol self-administration in non-dependent (ND) and PD rats tested either during acute withdrawal or relapse after protracted abstinence. Our results showed that memantine (25 mg/kg) abolished ethanol self-administration in ND rats and reduced by half the one of PD rats during acute withdrawal. While this effect was observed only 6 hours after treatment in ND rats, it was long lasting in PD rats (at least 30 hours after injection). Furthermore, our results indicated that memantine did not modify the breaking point for ethanol. This suggests that memantine probably act by potentiating the pharmacological effect of ethanol but not by reducing motivation for ethanol. Finally, memantine was also ineffective in reducing relapse after protracted abstinence. Altogether, our pre-clinical results highlighted a potential therapeutic use of memantine that may be used as a replacement therapy drug but not as relapse-preventing drug.


AUDs; Acute withdrawal; memantine; operant self-administration; protracted abstinence; relapse

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