Topiramate Versus Naltrexone for Alcohol Use Disorder: A Genotype-Stratified Double-Blind Randomized Controlled Trial

Am J Psychiatry. 2024 May 1;181(5):403-411. doi: 10.1176/appi.ajp.20230666.


Objective: There have been no well-controlled and well-powered comparative trials of topiramate with other pharmacotherapies for alcohol use disorder (AUD), such as naltrexone. Moreover, the literature is mixed on the effects of two polymorphisms-rs2832407 (in GRIK1) and rs1799971 (in OPRM1)-on response to topiramate and naltrexone, respectively. The authors sought to examine the comparative effectiveness of topiramate and naltrexone in improving outcomes in AUD and to examine the role of the rs2832407 and rs1799971 polymorphisms, respectively, on response to these medications.

Methods: In a 12-week, double-blind, placebo-controlled, randomized, multisite, genotype-stratified (rs2832407 and rs1799971) clinical trial comparing topiramate and naltrexone in treating AUD, 147 patients with AUD were randomly assigned to treatment with topiramate or naltrexone, stratified by genotype (rs2832407*CC and *AC/AA genotypes and rs1799971*AA and *AG/GG genotypes). The predefined primary outcome was number of heavy drinking days per week. Predefined secondary outcomes included standard drinks per drinking day per week, body mass index (BMI), craving, markers of liver injury, mood, and adverse events.

Results: For the number of heavy drinking days per week, there was a near-significant time-by-treatment interaction. For the number of standard drinks per drinking day per week, there was a significant time-by-treatment interaction, which favored topiramate. There were significant time-by-treatment effects, with greater reductions observed with topiramate than naltrexone for BMI, craving, and gamma-glutamyltransferase level. Withdrawal due to side effects occurred in 8% and 5% of the topiramate and naltrexone groups, respectively. Neither polymorphism showed an effect on treatment response.

Conclusions: Topiramate is at least as effective and safe as the first-line medication, naltrexone, in reducing heavy alcohol consumption, and superior in reducing some clinical outcomes. Neither rs2832407 nor rs1799971 had effects on topiramate and naltrexone treatments, respectively.

Keywords: Alcohol Use Disorder; GRIK1; Naltrexone; OPRM1; Pharmacogenetics; Topiramate.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Multicenter Study
  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Alcoholism* / drug therapy
  • Alcoholism* / genetics
  • Craving / drug effects
  • Double-Blind Method
  • Female
  • Fructose / analogs & derivatives
  • Fructose / therapeutic use
  • Genotype*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Naltrexone* / therapeutic use
  • Narcotic Antagonists / therapeutic use
  • Polymorphism, Single Nucleotide
  • Receptors, Kainic Acid* / genetics
  • Receptors, Opioid, mu / genetics
  • Topiramate* / therapeutic use
  • Treatment Outcome


  • Topiramate
  • Naltrexone
  • OPRM1 protein, human
  • Receptors, Kainic Acid
  • Receptors, Opioid, mu
  • Gluk1 kainate receptor
  • Narcotic Antagonists
  • Fructose