Scopolamine: An old drug with new psychiatric applications
Scopolamine is an anticholinergic drug with many uses. For example, it prevents nausea, vomiting, and motion sickness.
However, scopolamine is re-emerging as an antidepressant, with recent studies showing that scopolamine can rapidly improve mood in depressed patients. In addition, in a new study published in Biological Psychiatry this month by Dr. Moriel Zelikowsky and colleagues at the University of California, Los Angeles, it may also be a possible treatment for anxiety disorders.
Exposure therapy, where the key goal is the elimination of fear through repeated 'safe' exposure to the threat, is commonly employed for the treatment of anxiety disorders. However, its effectiveness is diminished because humans and animals alike tend to be very sensitive to context, causing extinction learning to be dependent on the environment in which it occurs. This makes memories formed during extinction unstable. As a result, extinguished fears commonly return when people put themselves in new situations.
"Current research aimed at treating this problem either employs invasive, untranslatable methods or attempts to strengthen extinction learning rather than prevent relapse," explained senior author Dr. Michael Fanselow.
In an effort to solve this dilemma, Fanselow and his team took a novel theoretical approach. Employing an animal model of exposure therapy, they found they were able to disrupt the rats' contextual processing during extinction using low doses of scopolamine, which blocked the return of fear when the rats were exposed to both the original and a new context.
"This finding provides groundbreaking evidence that changing the nature of extinction learning, rather than its magnitude, can produce profound improvements in the prevention of relapse," added Fanselow.
Scopolamine also slowed the rate of extinction memory formation, which was overcome by adding training sessions. Taken together, these findings indicate that scopolamine may serve as a promising pharmacological adjunct to exposure therapy by improving one's resiliency to environmental changes.
"The emerging new uses for scopolamine are quite promising, although further research is needed," commented Dr. John Krystal, Editor of Biological Psychiatry. "These new data are a wonderful example of the capacity of translational neuroscience approaches to identify new uses for old medications."
More information: doi: 10.1016/j.biopsych.2012.08.006
Journal reference: Biological Psychiatry
Provided by Elsevier
- Study offers new insight for preventing fear relapse after trauma Nov 29, 2011 | not rated yet | 0
- Brain activity predicts response to scopolamine Jan 31, 2013 | not rated yet | 0
- Treating addiction by eliminating drug-associated memories Apr 23, 2009 | not rated yet | 0
- A new generation of rapid-acting antidepressants? Mar 01, 2010 | not rated yet | 0
- D-cycloserine may improve behavioral therapy treatment for anxiety Jul 16, 2008 | not rated yet | 0
- Motion perception revisited: High Phi effect challenges established motion perception assumptions Apr 23, 2013 | 3 / 5 (2) | 2
- Anything you can do I can do better: Neuromolecular foundations of the superiority illusion (Update) Apr 02, 2013 | 4.5 / 5 (11) | 5
- The visual system as economist: Neural resource allocation in visual adaptation Mar 30, 2013 | 5 / 5 (2) | 9
- Separate lives: Neuronal and organismal lifespans decoupled Mar 27, 2013 | 4.9 / 5 (8) | 0
- Sizing things up: The evolutionary neurobiology of scale invariance Feb 28, 2013 | 4.8 / 5 (10) | 14
Pressure-volume curve: Elastic Recoil Pressure don't make sense
May 18, 2013 From pressure-volume curve of the lung and chest wall (attached photo), I don't understand why would the elastic recoil pressure of the lung is...
If you became brain-dead, would you want them to pull the plug?
May 17, 2013 I'd want the rest of me to stay alive. Sure it's a lousy way to live but it beats being all-the-way dead. Maybe if I make it 20 years they'll...
MRI bill question
May 15, 2013 Dear PFers, The hospital gave us a $12k bill for one MRI (head with contrast). The people I talked to at the hospital tell me that they do not...
Ratio of Hydrogen of Oxygen in Dessicated Animal Protein
May 13, 2013 As an experiment, for the past few months I've been consuming at least one portion of Jell-O or unflavored Knox gelatin per day. I'm 64, in very...
Alcohol and acetaminophen
May 13, 2013 Edit: sorry for the typo in the title , can't edit I looked around on google quite a bit and it's very hard to find precise information on the...
Marie Curie's leukemia
May 13, 2013 Does anyone know what might be the cause of Marie Curie's cancer
- More from Physics Forums - Medical Sciences
More news stories
A Mediterranean diet with added extra virgin olive oil or mixed nuts seems to improve the brain power of older people better than advising them to follow a low-fat diet, indicates research published online in the Journal of ...
Psychology & Psychiatry 9 hours ago | not rated yet | 0
More people are being diagnosed with eating disorders every year and the most common type is not either of the two most well known—bulimia or anorexia—but eating disorders not otherwise specified (eating disorders that ...
Psychology & Psychiatry 9 hours ago | not rated yet | 0
Turns out, that old "practice makes perfect" adage may be overblown. New research led by Michigan State University's Zach Hambrick finds that a copious amount of practice is not enough to explain why people ...
Psychology & Psychiatry 10 hours ago | 3.3 / 5 (10) | 0 |
(Medical Xpress)—Individuals who learn two languages at an early age seem to switch back and forth between separate "sound systems" for each language, according to new research conducted at the University of Arizona.
Psychology & Psychiatry 11 hours ago | 5 / 5 (4) | 0 |
Video games that pit players against human-looking characters may be more likely to provoke violent thoughts and words than games where monstrous creatures are the enemy, according to a new study by researchers ...
Psychology & Psychiatry 11 hours ago | not rated yet | 0
(Medical Xpress)—A research team, led by Jeremy Barr, a biology post-doctoral fellow, unveils a new immune system that protects humans and animals from infection.
9 hours ago | 4.6 / 5 (12) | 4 |
Early-life exposure to traffic-related air pollution was significantly associated with higher hyperactivity scores at age 7, according to new research from the University of Cincinnati (UC) and Cincinnati Children's Hospital ...
3 hours ago | not rated yet | 0 |
New research suggests that a compound abundant in the Mediterranean diet takes away cancer cells' "superpower" to escape death. By altering a very specific step in gene regulation, this compound essentially re-educates cancer ...
12 hours ago | 4.8 / 5 (11) | 2 |
Salamanders' immune systems are key to their remarkable ability to regrow limbs, and could also underpin their ability to regenerate spinal cords, brain tissue and even parts of their hearts, scientists have ...
12 hours ago | 4.8 / 5 (6) | 2 |
Researchers have pinpointed a catalytic trigger for the onset of Alzheimer's disease – when the fundamental structure of a protein molecule changes to cause a chain reaction that leads to the death of neurons ...
12 hours ago | 5 / 5 (3) | 0 |
Bacteria resistant to the antibiotic colistin are also commonly resistant to antimicrobial substances made by the human body, according to a study in mBio, the online open-access journal of the American Society for Microb ...
3 hours ago | 5 / 5 (1) | 0