The development of tolerance to drugs that suppress food intake.

Appetite suppressants have been available as weight-reducing aids for over 50 years. The first discovered was amphetamine, which was potent, but possessed undesirable side effects (it is a stimulant and elevates blood pressure). Subsequently, a variety of appetite drugs was developed, all structurally related to amphetamine, but mostly lacking unwanted side effects. Until recently, fenfluramine (FEN) was the most widely used; presently, sibutramine is the most commonly used appetite suppressant. While these appetite suppressants are effective at reducing hunger and food intake when given as a single dose or for short periods of time, their effectiveness diminishes when administered chronically. The biological mechanisms underlying this tolerance have not been carefully studied, but many possibilities have been identified, including the down-regulation in brain of neurotransmitter receptors that might mediate the action of these drugs and adaptive responses of the appetite control circuitry in brain. To date, however, few studies have examined these possibilities in any detail. This article focuses on the question of why appetite suppressants lose efficacy, when given chronically, because this issue is important to the development of the next generation of appetite suppressants. Chronic efficacy should be an issue studied relatively early in the drug development process. This issue is of particular relevance, since obesity treatment is now recognized as a long-term, not a short-term, process. If appetite suppressants are to become a more important tool in obesity treatment, agents that do not lose efficacy when administered for extended periods of time must be identified.
AuthorsJohn D Fernstrom, Sujean Choi
JournalPharmacology & therapeutics (Pharmacol Ther) Vol. 117 Issue 1 Pg. 105-22 (Jan 2008) ISSN: 0163-7258 [Print] England
PMID17950459 (Publication Type: Journal Article, Review)
Chemical References
  • Appetite Depressants
  • Cyclobutanes
  • Leptin
  • Fenfluramine
  • sibutramine
  • Animals
  • Appetite Depressants (administration & dosage, pharmacology)
  • Body Weight (drug effects)
  • Cyclobutanes (administration & dosage, pharmacology)
  • Drug Tolerance
  • Eating (drug effects)
  • Fenfluramine (administration & dosage, pharmacology)
  • Humans
  • Leptin (administration & dosage, pharmacology)
  • Obesity (drug therapy)
  • Rats
  • Time Factors
  • Weight Loss (drug effects)

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