Disulfiram, A Drug To Treat Alcoholism, Can Also Treat Anxiety: Study Finds

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Researchers at Tokyo University of Science studied how disulfiram (DSF), a drug that treats alcoholism, can also be used for anxiety treatment. The study is published in Frontiers in Pharmacology.

The Study

In order to study the benefits of DSF in anxiety treatment, the researchers administered DSF and diazepam (a popular anti-anxiety drug) to mice. Then, they were placed in an elevated plus-maze (EPM) apparatus and their activity was monitored. In EPM tests involving animal subjects, it is usually observed that animals with anxiety prefer to spend time in the boundaries arms.

The Findings

The results revealed that mice treated with both DSF and diazepam were less anxious, spending significantly more time in the open arms of the apparatus. DSF is a drug to treat chronic alcoholism but its administration on mice displayed the same effects as anxiolytic drugs.

Moreover, it was found that DSF treatment lacked the side effects of anti-anxiety medication, such as sedation, amnesia, coordination disorders, etc.

Drawing Inferences

DSF inhibits a cytoplasmic protein known as FRONT that influences CCR2 and CCR5, two chemokine receptors involved in the transmission of extracellular glutamate, important amino acid, and neurotransmitter related to severe anxiety. When administered to treat anxiety, DSF blocks FRONT from interacting with the chemokine receptors. Consequently, the chemokine signaling pathways suppress the presynaptic glutamatergic transmission in the brain. This lowers the levels of glutamate and reduces anxiety.

The researchers are enthusiastic that further exploration of DSF-related pharmaceutical actions on the central nervous system can lead to effectual anxiolytic drug development. One of the lead authors, Professor Akiyoshi Saitoh, elaborated: “These results indicate that DSF can be used safely by elderly patients suffering from anxiety and insomnia and has the potential to become a breakthrough psychotropic drug.”

To Know More You May Refer To

Saitoh, A., Nagayama, Y., Yamada, D., Makino, K., Yoshioka, T., Yamanaka, N., Nakatani, M., Takahashi, Y., Yamazaki, M., Shigemoto, C., Ohashi, M., Okano, K., Omata, T., Toda, E., Sano, Y., Takahashi, H., Matsushima, K., & Terashima, Y. (2022). Disulfiram Produces Potent Anxiolytic-Like Effects Without Benzodiazepine Anxiolytics-Related Adverse Effects in Mice. Frontiers in pharmacology, 13, 826783. https://doi.org/10.3389/fphar.2022.826783

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