Last updated on March 2018

Gabapentin for Bipolar & Cannabis Use Disorders


Brief description of study

The proposed 2-week, double-blind, crossover, proof of concept study aims to measure and manipulate core neurochemical (i.e., dysregulated brain GABA/glutamate homeostasis) and neurobehavioral (i.e., elevated impulsivity) dysfunctions characteristic of individuals with cannabis use disorder (CUD) and Bipolar Disorder (BD), using a medication that has been shown to increase cortical GABA (i.e., gabapentin) levels in past research, and to evaluate medication-related changes in response inhibition (go no-go) and cannabis cue reactivity functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging tasks, as well as cannabis use, mood symptoms (including anxiety and sleep), and impulsivity in individuals with CUD+BD.

Detailed Study Description

Bipolar disorder (BD) is the Axis I condition most strongly associated with cannabis use disorder (CUD); there is a six-fold increase in the prevalence of CUD in individuals with BD relative to the general population. Individuals with co-occurring CUD and BD (CUD+BD) have substantially worse clinical outcomes than those with either BD or CUD alone. Response to mood stabilizing medications appears to be poor, yet little is known about optimal treatment for CUD+BD, as there have been no randomized medication trials for CUD+BD to date. Convergent evidence supports dysregulated brain -Aminobutyric acid (GABA)/glutamate homeostasis as a candidate target for pharmacological intervention in CUD+BD. Preclinical and clinical studies have demonstrated that CUD and BD are each associated with prefrontal GABA and glutamate disturbances and that impulsivity, a core neurobehavioral feature of both CUD and BD and a key Research Domain Criteria (RDoC) construct, is causally related to GABAergic/glutamatergic functioning. Gabapentin has been consistently shown in preclinical research to modulate GABA and glutamate transmission. In human Proton Magnetic Resonance Spectroscopy (1H-MRS) studies, both acute and chronic gabapentin dosing have been shown to increase brain GABA levels, however, few studies have investigated gabapentin effects on glutamate levels. Researchers propose that gabapentin may impact clinical outcomes in CUD+BD individuals both directly and indirectly through their impact on impulsivity.

Clinical Study Identifier: NCT03334721

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James Prisciandaro, PhD

Medical University of South Carolina
Charleston, SC United States
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