Heart drug shows potential as treatment for alcohol use disorder

News release

Tuesday, September 20, 2022

Medication for heart problems and high blood pressure may also be effective for treating alcohol use disorder, according to a new study by researchers at the National Institutes of Health and their colleagues. The study draws on evidence from experiments in rats and mice, as well as a cohort study in humans, suggesting that the drug, spironolactone, may play a role in reducing alcohol drinking. The research was led by scientists from the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) and the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA), both parts of the NIH, and Yale School of Medicine, New Haven, Connecticut. A report of the new findings has been published in molecular psychiatry,

“The combination of findings across three species and different types of research studies, and then looking at the similarities in those data, gives us confidence that we are on to something potentially scientifically and medically important. These findings are important for potential treatments for alcohol use disorder.” As support further study of spironolactone, a medical condition that affects millions of people in the U.S.,” said Lorenzo Legio, MD, PhD, head of the Clinical Psychoneuroendocrinology and Neuropsychopharmacology section, a joint study. NIDA and NIAAA’s laboratory, and one of the senior authors.

are currently Three Drugs Approved for Alcohol Use Disorder in the United States, and they are an effective and important aid in the treatment of people with this condition. Given the diverse biological processes that contribute to alcohol use disorder, new drugs are needed to provide a broad spectrum of treatment options. Scientists are working to develop a large menu of drug treatments that can be tailored to individual needs.

Previous research has shown that mineralocorticoid receptors, which are located throughout the brain and other organs and help regulate fluid and electrolyte balance in the body, may play a role in alcohol use and craving. Preclinical research suggests that high mineralocorticoid receptor signaling contributes to increased alcohol consumption. The current study sought to expand this line of research by testing spironolactone, a drug with multiple actions, including blocking mineralocorticoid receptors. Spironolactone is used in clinical practice as a diuretic and to treat conditions such as heart problems and high blood pressure.

In experiments performed in mouse and rat models of excessive drinking, researchers from the NIAAA and NIDA led by co-senior author Leandro Vendruscolo, Ph.D., of NIDA, found that increasing doses of spironolactone increased the effect of spironolactone in males. Reduced alcohol consumption and female animals, without causing movement or coordination problems, and without affecting their food or water intake.

In a parallel study that was part of this team’s collaborative effort, co-senior author Amy C. The researchers, led by Justice, MD, PhD, examined the health records of a large sample of people. US Veterans Affairs Healthcare System to assess potential changes in drinking alcohol after spironolactone is prescribed for current clinical signs (eg, heart problems, hypertension). They found a significant association between spironolactone treatment and a reduction in self-reported alcohol consumption, as measured by Alcohol use disorder identification test-consumption, a screening tool. Of note, the greatest effect was observed in those who reported dangerous/heavy episodic alcohol consumption prior to initiating spironolactone treatment.

“These are very encouraging findings,” said NIAAA Director George F. Cobb, PhD, study co-author. “Taken together, the present study argues for conducting a randomized, controlled study of spironolactone in people with alcohol use disorder to assess its safety and potential efficacy in this population, as well as to understand whether Additional work needs to be done to see how spironolactone might reduce alcohol drinking.”

Nora Volkow said, “Like any other medical condition, people with substance use disorders deserve to have the many treatment options available to them, and this study is one of our best efforts to expand medication for people with alcohol use disorder.” An exciting step in the effort.” , MD, Director of NIDA. “In addition, we must remove the stigma and other barriers that prevent many people with alcohol use disorder from accessing the treatment we already have.”

About the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA): The National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, part of the National Institutes of Health, is the primary US agency to conduct and support research on the causes, consequences, prevention, and treatment of alcohol use disorder. The NIAAA also disseminates research findings to general, professional and academic audiences. Additional alcohol research information and publications are available at: https://www.niaaa.nih.gov,

About National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA): NIDA is a component of the National Institutes of Health, the US Department of Health and Human Services. NIDA supports much of the world’s research on the health aspects of drug use and addiction. The Institute conducts a variety of programs to inform policy, improve practice, and advance addiction science. For more information about NIDA and its programs visit https://www.nida.nih.gov,

About National Institutes of Health (NIH):The NIH, the nation’s medical research agency, consists of 27 institutions and centers and is a component of the US Department of Health and Human Services. The NIH is the primary federal agency that conducts and supports basic, clinical, and translational medical research, and investigates the causes, treatments, and cures of both common and rare diseases. For more information about NIH and its programs, visit www.nih.gov.

NIH… Turning Discovery into Health


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