Effects of topiramate on ethanol-cocaine interactions and DNA methyltransferase gene expression in the rat prefrontal cortex

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Recent and ongoing clinical studies have indicated that topiramate (Topamax®) could be effective in treating ethanol or cocaine abuse. However, the effects of topiramate on the co-administration of ethanol and cocaine remain largely unknown.


We studied the effects of topiramate, in Wistar rats, on operant ethanol self-administration with the co-administration of cocaine (i.p.). The psychomotor effects of topiramate were examined before ethanol self-administration and cocaine exposure. Blood samples were collected to analyse ethanol and cocaine metabolism (blood ethanol levels and benzoylecgonine). Quantitative real-time PCR was used to characterize the gene expression in the prefrontal cortex.


Topiramate prevented the cocaine-induced increased response to ethanol in a dose-dependent manner without causing any motor impairment by itself. This effect was observed when topiramate was administered before ethanol access, but not when topiramate was administered before the cocaine injection. Topiramate did not block cocaine-induced psychomotor stimulation. Topiramate reduced blood ethanol levels but did not affect cocaine metabolism. Ethanol increased the gene expression of DNA methyltransferases (Dnmt1 and Dnmt3a), the corepressor Dnmt1-associated protein 1 (Dmap1), and the RNA methyltransferase Trdmt1. These effects were prevented by topiramate or cocaine. Gene expression of histone deacetylase-2 and glutamate receptor kainate-1 were only increased by cocaine treatment. Topiramate and cocaine co-administration caused an up-regulation of dopamine (Drd1, Th) and opioid (Oprm1) receptor genes. Topiramate showed a tendency to alter episodic-like memory.


Topiramate is an effective inhibitor of the cocaine-induced increase in operant ethanol self-administration.

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