Ondansetron and sertraline may interact with 5-HTTLPR and DRD4 polymorphisms to reduce drinking in non-treatment seeking alcohol-dependent women: Exploratory findings Academic Article uri icon

  • Overview
  • Research
  • Identity
  • Additional Document Info
  • View All


  • The purpose of this exploratory study was to examine the interaction of 5-HTTLPR and DRD4 exon III polymorphisms with gender in non-treatment seeking alcohol-dependent (AD) individuals while alternately taking ondansetron and sertraline. Evidence suggests that alcohol dependence may be influenced by a genetic interaction that may be gender-specific with temporal changes making pharmacological treatment with serotonergic drugs complex. The main trial was a within-subject double-blind placebo-controlled human laboratory study with 77 non-treatment-seeking AD individuals randomized (55 completed, 49 complete data) to receive 200 mg/day of sertraline or 0.5 mg/day of ondansetron for 3 weeks followed by an alcohol self-administration experiment (ASAE), then placebo for 3 weeks followed by a second ASAE, then receive the alternate drug, in a counterbalanced order, for 3 weeks followed by a third ASAE. Results for men were not significant. Women with the LL 5-HTTLPR genotype receiving ondansetron and SS/SL 5-HTTLPR genotype receiving sertraline (matched), drank significantly fewer drinks per drinking day (DDD) during the 7 days prior to the first and third ASAEs than women receiving the mismatched medication (i.e., sertraline to LL and ondansetron to SS/SL). In a 3-way interaction, 5-HTTLPR alleles by DRD4 alleles by medications, women with the LL genotype who received ondansetron and had DRD4≥7 exon III repeats drank significantly fewer DDD as did SS/SL women who received sertraline but conversely had DRD4<7 repeats in the 7-day period leading up to the first and third ASAEs. Consistent with these data was a significant reduction of milliliters consumed ad libitum during these same ASAEs. These exploratory findings add possible support to gender and genetic differences among AD individuals in response to serotonergic pharmacotherapies. Future trials should be powerful enough to take into account that endophenotypes and a targeting of serotonergic interactions may be essential to successfully treat alcohol dependence.


  • Kenna, George A
  • Zywiak, William H
  • Swift, Robert M
  • McGeary, John E
  • Clifford, James S
  • Shoaff, Jessica R
  • Fricchione, Samuel
  • Brickley, Megan B
  • Beaucage, Kayla
  • Haass-Koffler, Carolina L
  • Leggio, Lorenzo

publication date

  • September 2014