Fenobam sulfate inhibits cocaine-taking and cocaine-seeking behavior in rats: Implications for addiction treatment in humans

Thomas M. Keck, Hong Ju Yang, Guo Hua Bi, Yong Huang, Hai Ying Zhang, Ratika Srivastava, Eliot L. Gardner, Amy Hauck Newman, Zheng Xiong Xi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

26 Scopus citations


Rationale: The metabotropic glutamate receptor subtype 5 (mGluR5) has been reported to be critically involved in drug reward and addiction. Because the mGluR5 negative allosteric modulators (NAMs) 2-methyl-6-(phenylethynyl)pyridine (MPEP) and 3-((2-methyl-1,3-thiazol-4-yl)ethynyl)pyridine (MTEP) significantly inhibit addictivelike behaviors of cocaine and other drugs of abuse in experimental animals, it has been suggested that mGluR5 NAMs may have translational potential for treatment of addiction in humans. However, neither MPEP nor MTEP have been evaluated in humans due to their off-target actions and rapid metabolism. Objectives: Herein, we evaluate a potential candidate for translational addiction research: a new sulfate salt formulation of fenobam, a selective mGluR5 NAM that has been investigated in humans. Results: In rats, fenobam sulfate had superior pharmacokinetics compared to the free base, with improved maximal plasma concentration (C max) and longer half life. Oral (p.o.) administration of fenobam sulfate (30 or 60 mg/kg) inhibited intravenous (i.v.) cocaine self-administration, cocaine-induced reinstatement of drug-seeking behavior, and cocaine-associated cue-induced cocaine-seeking behavior in rats. Fenobam sulfate also inhibited p.o. sucrose self-administration and sucrose-induced reinstatement of sucrose-seeking behavior, but had no effect on locomotion. Conclusions: This study provides additional support for the role of mGluR5 signaling in cocaine addiction and suggests that fenobam sulfate may have translational potential in medication development for the treatment of cocaine addiction in humans.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)253-265
Number of pages13
Issue number2
StatePublished - Sep 2013
Externally publishedYes


  • Cocaine
  • Cocaine-seeking behavior
  • Fenobam
  • Incubation of cocaine craving
  • Reinstatement
  • Self-administration
  • mGluR5

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pharmacology


Dive into the research topics of 'Fenobam sulfate inhibits cocaine-taking and cocaine-seeking behavior in rats: Implications for addiction treatment in humans'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this