UNC Department of Psychiatry
My research interests involve several directions related to the biology of alcoholism and the development of new psychopharmacological strategies to treat alcoholism.
Relationship between Sweet Preference and Alcoholism
In collaboration with Dr. Alexey Kampov of the Center for Alcohol Studies we have extended an observation made in animals that preference for alcohol and preference for sweets are strongly correlated with one another by studying sweet preference in alcoholic men. Humans can be subdivided into sweet likers and sweet dislikers based on subjective responses to increasing concentrations of sugars. We have shown that 65% of abstinent male alcoholics without significant liver or pancreatic disease can be classified as sweet likers compared to 16% of nonalcoholic, similarly aged males. We are currently investigating the replicability of this finding, associated clinical variables and possible confounders such as altered taste or smell perception.
Baclofen for the Treatment of Alcohol Dependence
We are currently studying the efficacy and tolerability of baclofen, 30 mg/d, compared to placebo in men and women with alcohol dependence. Baclofen is a GABA-B agonist that has shown promise in animal models of heavy alcohol use and in one small human placebo-controlled trial where it reduced alcohol consumption and enhanced abstinence. We are also interested in developing a pilot study of combining baclofen with naltrexone for alcoholism.
Visit the AACT website for additional information.
Association of the Sweet-Liking Phenotype and Craving for Alcohol With the Response to Naltrexone Treatment in Alcohol Dependence: A Randomized Clinical Trial. Garbutt JC, Kampov-Polevoy AB, Kalka-Juhl LS, Gallop RJ. JAMA Psychiatry. 2016 Oct 1;73(10):1056-1063. doi: 10.1001/jamapsychiatry.2016.2157. PMID:27627782
Alcohol Use Disorder Treatment: The Association of Pretreatment Use and the Role of Drinking Goal. Berger L, Brondino M, Fisher M, Gwyther R, Garbutt JC. J Am Board Fam Med. 2016 Jan-Feb;29(1):37-49. doi: 10.3122/jabfm.2016.01.150143. PMID:26769876
Genetic polymorphisms and response to medications for alcohol use disorders: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Jonas DE, Amick HR, Feltner C, Wines R, Shanahan E, Rowe CJ, Garbutt JC. Pharmacogenomics. 2014 Sep;15(13):1687-700. doi: 10.2217/pgs.14.121. Review. PMID:25410894
Sweet-liking is associated with transformation of heavy drinking into alcohol-related problems in young adults with high novelty seeking. Kampov-Polevoy A, Lange L, Bobashev G, Eggleston B, Root T, Garbutt JC. Alcohol Clin Exp Res. 2014 Jul;38(7):2119-26. doi: 10.1111/acer.12458. PMID:24962796