Dextromethorphan attenuates ethanol withdrawal syndrome in rats

Pharmacol Biochem Behav. 1999 Mar;62(3):537-41. doi: 10.1016/s0091-3057(98)00175-0.


The effects of dextromethorphan (DM), a noncompetitive antagonist of the N-methyl-D-aspartate (NMDA) receptors, have been investigated on ethanol withdrawal signs in rats. Ethanol (7.2% v/v) was given to rats in a liquid diet for 16 days. DM (10, 20, and 40 mg/kg) and saline were injected intraperitoneally at the third hour of ethanol withdrawal. DM (40 mg/kg) and ethanol dependent saline were also administered to ethanol naive rats. DM (40 mg/kg) did not produce any significant change in locomotor activity in ethanol naive rats. The effects of DM on locomotor activity and total ethanol withdrawal score were evaluated at the fourth and sixth hours of ethanol withdrawal. DM inhibited locomotor hyperactivity at these periods. DM also reduced total ethanol withdrawal score from the fourth hour to the sixth hour, and it significantly decreased audiogenic seizures. Seizure susceptibility after chronic ethanol exposure may be dependent upon sensitization or upregulation of NMDA processes and NMDA receptors. Our results suggest that inhibition of NMDA receptors by DM alleviates signs of ethanol withdrawal.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Acoustic Stimulation
  • Animals
  • Antitussive Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Central Nervous System Depressants / adverse effects*
  • Dextromethorphan / therapeutic use*
  • Ethanol / adverse effects*
  • Male
  • Motor Activity / drug effects
  • Rats
  • Rats, Wistar
  • Seizures / physiopathology
  • Substance Withdrawal Syndrome / drug therapy*
  • Substance Withdrawal Syndrome / psychology


  • Antitussive Agents
  • Central Nervous System Depressants
  • Ethanol
  • Dextromethorphan