Dual dopamine/serotonin releasers as potential medications for stimulante and alcohol addictions
We have advocated the idea of agonist therapy for treating cocaine addiction. This strategy involves administration of stimulant-like medications (eg, monoamine releasers) to alleviate withdrawal symptoms and prevent relapse. A major limitation of this approach is that many candidate medicines possess significant abuse potential because of activation of mesolimbic dopamine (DA) neurons in central nervous system reward circuits. Previous data suggest that serotonin (5-HT) neurons can provide an inhibitory influence over mesolimbic DA neurons. Thus, it might be predicted that the balance between DA and 5-HT transmission is important to consider when developing medications with reduced stimulant side effects. In this article, we discuss several issues related to the development of dual DA/5-HT releasers for the treatment of substance use disorders. First, we discuss evidence supporting the existence of a dual deficit in DA and 5-HT function during withdrawal from chronic cocaine or alcohol abuse. Then we summarize studies that have tested the hypothesis that 5-HT neurons can dampen the effects mediated by mesolimbic DA. For example, it has been shown that pharmacological manipulations that increase extracellular 5-HT attenuate stimulant effects produced by DA release, such as locomotor stimulation and self-administration behavior. Finally, we discuss our recently published data about PAL-287 (naphthylisopropylamine), a novel non-amphetamine DA-/5-HT-releasing agent that suppresses cocaine self-administration but lacks positive reinforcing properties. It is concluded that DA/5-HT releasers might be useful therapeutic adjuncts for the treatment of cocaine and alcohol addiction, obesity, and even attention deficit disorder and depression.