A Double-Blind, Placebo-Controlled Trial of the NMDA Glycine Site Antagonist, GW468816, for Prevention of Relapse to Smoking in Females

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Relapse to smoking is common after initial abstinence with pharmacotherapy and behavioral support and represents a major clinical challenge. Although mechanisms underlying relapse to smoking have not been elucidated, preclinical studies suggest that glutamate receptors may be involved. We sought to test a selective antagonist of the glycine coagonist site on the glutamate N-methyl-d-aspartate receptor, GW468816, for prevention of relapse in recently abstinent smokers. To do so, we enrolled 264 healthy female smokers in an open 8-week smoking cessation intervention with behavioral therapy and a standard dose of transdermal nicotine replacement therapy with taper and additional gum or lozenge as needed for nicotine withdrawal symptoms. Ninety-eight participants achieved 7-day point prevalence abstinence and were randomized into a 5-week double-blind, placebo-controlled, relapse-prevention trial of GW468816 (200 mg/d) and then followed for 60 days after randomization. There was no effect of treatment on abstinence rates at the end of treatment (χ2 [1, n = 96] = 0.168, P = 0.838), on the rates of relapse (χ2 [1, n = 98] = 0.031, P = 1.000) or lapse (χ2 [1, n = 62] = 0.802, P = 0.423), or on time to relapse (χ2 [1, n = 98) = 0.001, P = 0.972). No significant relationships were detected between plasma GW468816 concentrations and abstinence, time to relapse, or self-reported craving. In conclusion, despite promising preclinical data that support the use of a selective NMDA glycine site antagonist for prevention of relapse to smoking, we observed no effect of GW468816 on relapse or lapse rates, time to relapse, or craving compared to placebo.

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