The hormone therapy drug cabergoline may help recovering alcoholics maintain alcohol abstinence, according to new research from the University of California at San Francisco.
Forbes reported Feb. 26 that researchers found that alcohol-dependent rats injected with the drug decreased their drinking and limited addictive behavior. The rats were less prone to relapses, as well.
Researchers found that cabergoline did not change behavior like water or sugar intake, which suggests that the drug influences addictive behavior associated with alcohol dependence, rather than reward or pleasure behaviors. “One of the problems with some existing drugs to treat alcoholism is a side effect that decreases pleasure, making compliance an obstacle to sobriety,” researcher Dorit Ron said.
Cabergoline, which is used to treat infertility and menstrual disorders, increases production of glial cell line-derived neurotrophic factor protein (GDNF). The researchers observed that rats were less likely to press a lever that delivered alcohol when injected with higher doses of GDNF. Earlier studies by the team showed that injections of cabergoline in alcohol-dependent rats’ brains decreased their desire for alcohol.
The findings were published online Feb. 23, 2009 in the journal Biological Psychiatry.