Combining theα1-Adrenergic Receptor Antagonist, Prazosin, with theβ-Adrenergic Receptor Antagonist, Propranolol, Reduces Alcohol Drinking More Effectively Than Either Drug Alone

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Evidence suggests that activation of the noradrenergic system may contribute to alcohol drinking in animals and humans. Our previous studies demonstrated that blocking α1-adrenergic receptors with the antagonist, prazosin, decreased alcohol drinking in rats under various conditions. As noradrenergic activation is also regulated by β-adrenergic receptors, we now examine the effects of the β-adrenergic receptor antagonist, propranolol, alone or in combination with prazosin, on alcohol drinking in rats selectively bred for high voluntary alcohol intake and alcohol preference (P line).


Two studies were conducted with male P rats. In study 1, rats were allowed to become alcohol-dependent during 14 weeks of ad libitum access to food, water, and 20% alcohol, and the effect of propranolol (5 to 15 mg/kg, intraperitoneally [IP]) and prazosin (1 to 2 mg/kg, IP) on alcohol intake during withdrawal was assessed. In study 2, the effect of propranolol (5 mg/kg, IP) and prazosin (2 mg/kg, IP) on alcohol intake following prolonged imposed abstinence was assessed.


Alcohol drinking following propranolol treatment was variable, but the combination of propranolol + prazosin consistently suppressed alcohol drinking during both alcohol withdrawal and following prolonged imposed abstinence, and the combination of these 2 drugs was more effective than was treatment with either drug alone.


Treatment with prazosin + propranolol, or a combination of other centrally active α1- and β-adrenergic receptor antagonists, may assist in preventing alcohol relapse in some individuals.

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