NISPA

Nijmegen Institute for Scientist-Practitioners in Addiction

The Neurobiological Mechanisms of Gamma-Hydroxybutyrate Dependence and Withdrawal and Their Clinical Relevance: A Review

Titel The Neurobiological Mechanisms of Gamma-Hydroxybutyrate Dependence and Withdrawal and Their Clinical Relevance: A Review
PublicatietypeJournal Article
Jaar van publicatie2016
AuteursKamal RM, van Noorden M, Franzek E.J., Dijkstra BAG, Loonen AJ, DeJong CA
UitgaveNeuropsychobiology
Volume73
Start Page65-80
Type of Articlereview
Samenvatting

Abstract Objective: γ-Hydroxybutyrate (GHB) has gained popularity as a drug of abuse. In the Netherlands the number of patients in treatment for GHB dependence has increased sharply. Clinical presentation of GHB withdrawal can be life threatening. We aim, through this overview, to explore the neurobiological pathways causing GHB dependency and withdrawal, and their implications for treatment choices. Methods: In this work we review the literature discussing the findings from animal models to clinical studies focused on the neurobiological pathways of endogenous but mainly exogenous GHB. Results: Chronic abuse of GHB exerts multifarious neurotransmitter and neuromodulator effects on γ-aminobutyric acid (GABA), glutamate, dopamine, serotonin, norepinephrine and cholinergic systems. Moreover, important effects on neurosteroidogenesis and oxytocin release are wielded. GHB acts mainly via a bidirectional effect on GABA B receptors (GABA B R; subunits GABA B1 and GABA B2 ), depending on the subunit of the GIRK (G-protein-dependent ion inwardly rectifying potassium) channel involved, and an indirect effect of the cortical and limbic inputs outside the nucleus accumbens. GHB also activates a specific GHB receptor and β 1 - subunits of α 4 -GABA A R. Reversing this complex interaction of neurobiological mechanisms by the abrupt cessation of GHB use results in a withdrawal syndrome with a diversity of symptoms of different intensity, depending on the pattern of GHB abuse. Conclusion: The GHB withdrawal symptoms cannot be related to a single mechanism or neurological pathway, which implies that different medication combinations are needed for treatment. A single drug class, such as benzodiazepines, gabapentin or antipsychotics, is unlikely to be sufficient to avoid life-threatening complications. Detoxification by means of titration and tapering of pharmaceutical GHB can be considered as a promising treatment that could make polypharmacy redundant.