Author(s): Dickerson D, Pittman B, Ralevski E, Perrino A, Limoncelli D,
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Abstract The gamma-aminobutyric acid-A (GABA(A)) and N-methyl-D-aspartate (NMDA) receptors mediate aspects of the behavioural effects of alcohol. Prior studies reported drugs that block NMDA receptors or facilitate GABA(A) receptor function produce ethanol-like effects in humans. The purpose of this study was to compare the ethanol-related effects of two pharmacological agents with known NMDA and GABA(A) receptor activity. As part of an ongoing, larger study, 28 subjects (age, 21-30) with no personal or family histories of alcoholism were administered subanesthetic doses of the GABA(A) receptor agonist thiopental, the NMDA receptor antagonist, ketamine and placebo on three separate test days. Various ethanol-related measures were administered. At doses of thiopental and ketamine that produced similar levels of sedation and cognitive effects, both agents produced significant ethanol-like effects and subjective intoxication. However, the intensity of the ethanol-like effects of ketamine was greater than that of thiopental. In addition, ketamine produced alterations in perception that were not produced by thiopental. These data provide further support for a model where GABA(A) receptor facilitation may contribute significantly to ethanol effects associated with social drinking, whereas NMDA receptor antagonism may contribute to relatively greater extent to features of ethanol 'intoxication'.
This article was published in J Psychopharmacol
and referenced in Journal of Addiction Research & Therapy