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    There is preliminary evidence that the anticonvulsant topiramate increases the likelihood of both smoking and alcohol abstinence among smokers with alcohol use disorder (AUD), but its therapeutic mechanism has not been determined. We used event-related potentials (ERPs) to evaluate topiramate's effect on the salience of drug-related, emotional, and neutral pictorial cues to identify whether one of its potential therapeutic mechanisms involves reduction of the salience of motivationally relevant cues. Participants enrolled in a multisite clinical trial treating smokers with AUD were randomly assigned to receive placebo, low-dose topiramate (up to 125 mg/day), or high-dose topiramate (up to 250 mg/day), along with brief behavioral compliance enhancement treatment. A subsample (n = 101) completed ERP assessments at baseline (1 week pre-medication) and week 5 (5 weeks on medication; 1 week pre-quit). We assessed the salience of pleasant, unpleasant, cigarette-related, alcohol-related, and neutral pictorial cues using the late positive potential (LPP) ERP component and measured self-reported substance use, reinforcement, craving, and withdrawal. Five weeks of high-dose topiramate treatment decreased LPP amplitudes in response to both emotional (pleasant and unpleasant) and drug-related cues (alcohol and cigarette), but not to neutral cues. However, results showed that the LPPs were not significant mediators of the relationship between topiramate dose and post-quit measures of substance use, reinforcement, craving, or withdrawal. These findings suggest that high-dose topiramate (up to 250 mg/day) decreases the motivational salience of both drug-related and emotional cues among smokers with AUD. However, the nonsignificant mediation analyses preclude any firm conclusions about whether this effect represents one of topiramate's therapeutic mechanisms of action. © 2022 by the Research Society on Alcoholism.


    Jason D Robinson, Yong Cui, Maher Karam-Hage, George Kypriotakis, Francesco Versace, Nassima Ait-Daoud Tiouririne, Robert M Anthenelli, Paul M Cinciripini. Topiramate decreases the salience of motivationally relevant visual cues among smokers with alcohol use disorder. Alcoholism, clinical and experimental research. 2022 Mar;46(3):384-395

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    PMID: 35037278

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